Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wrapping Up Word of the Week Wednesday!

Last week brought the end of our five-week Word of the Week Wednesday feature on Twitter (#wowwed). In case you missed it, here are the five word origins we tweeted, all courtesy of Mark Abley, author of Camp Fossil Eyes: Digging for the Origins of Words:

Parasite: In Ancient Greece, it was fun to be a parasite (literally, "beside food"). Parasites would eat dinner at rich people's homes, where they flattered the host.

Manure: A poet once wrote: "Manure your heart." Why? He meant "improve it." The word is from a Latin phrase meaning "work with the hands."

Gossip: Gossips were originally "God relatives" or godparents. Later they were women who were present at a child's birth--and who talked.

Salary: Centuries ago, people could preserve food only by covering it in salt. A salary was the money that Roman soldiers bought salt with.

Sockeye: Forget feet and faces! This word comes from B.C., where the Salish Indians called a red fish "su-key".

We've also drawn the winners for our favorite-word contest: first place has won a copy of Camp Fossil Eyes and a travel Scrabble set, and the two runners-up have each won a copy of the book! As soon as we've notified the winners, we'll post the origins of their favorite words (courtesy of Mark Abley, of course!). Stay tuned!

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