Emptiness in the origin of ‘evanescence’

The word evanescence means “the quality of being fleeting or vanishing quickly; impermanence”. It is also a pretty ok band from Arkansas. But what’s really neat are the connections to other commons words that share a central theme. They all come from the Latin word vanus meaning “empty or unsubstantial”. Here are the most interesting […]

Why flatulence, flavor and conflate all “blow”

The word flatulence refers to gas trapped in the digestive system, which is often smelly. It comes from Latin flatus “a snorting; a breaking wind”. The root of that is flāre, “to blow”, which has given us many diverse English words around the central idea of little puffs of air being moved around. Below, I’ve […]

Platypus word families

The duck-billed platypus is unique for many reasons—being the only mammal with venom, having biofluorescence, etc. But it is also interesting because of its name. “Platypus” literally means “flat foot” and connects with many other interesting “flat” and “foot” words as diverse as an Ancient Greek philosopher and a unit from Warcraft 3. “Plat-” comes […]