Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Vanilla Maybes

Things I learned in the past ten minutes from the new quiz at VitaminQ:
  • There is a word "isabelline" that refers to a grayish-yellow color. It's rare and most often appears affixed to the name of an animal of that color — for example, the isabelline wheatear or the isabelline shrike. The word supposedly comes from Isabella, Archduchess of Austria and the daughter of King Phillip II of Spain. She allegedly pledged not to change her underwear until her father had successfully toppled the city of Ostend in 1601. Unfortunately, the siege took three years. Other versions of the story place the dirty panties on Queen Isabella, wife of Spain's King Ferdinand. Regardless, the color the color name denotes the appearance of soiled underwear.
  • Sir Lanka was formerly known as Serendipity Isle.
  • "Cockney" — a word we now use to refer to the location, the language and the people — comes from an old English word meaning "an egg laid by a rooster."
  • "Poppycock" comes to us from Dutch. It means "soft baby feces."
And for anyone for whom this is remotely interesting, I suggest you check out World Wide Words, catering to the etymology nerd in you.

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