Mighty Red Pen

July 17, 2008

Origin of the species

Filed under: Uncategorized,Word wars,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:45 pm
Tags: ,

Okay, so you’re a smart word nerd and you probably know a lot of big SAT words. But do you know the origin of those words?

Check out Etymologic, which bills itself as “the toughest word game on the web.” Test your skill on questions like this one:

What was the phrase aftermath originally used to describe?

  • the experience of teenagers after a math exam
  • medical term for the convalescent period for a burn patient
  • the grass that grows after mowing a lawn
  • bombers describing a successful raid
  • Yeah, the answer is (c). MRP scored a pathetic 4 out of 10 on the first try, and admittedly most of those were educated guesses. Word nerd? Yes. Etymologist? Not so much. You give it a try and report back how you do. (And no fair cheating by referring to the Online Etymology Dictionary, either.)



    1. 8 out of 10, nyah nyah nyah.

      Most were just guesses.

      But it was fun!

      I got sabotage wrong, but Mr.TootsNYC would have gotten it right; unfort. he came into the room too late to help me cheat.

      Comment by TootsNYC — July 17, 2008 @ 9:01 pm | Reply

    2. Gah! Well, I *did* get sabotage! As if that’s any consolation. Good show!

      Comment by mighty red pen — July 18, 2008 @ 8:07 am | Reply

    3. Don’t feel bad, MRP. I only got four right, too. (And I only really KNEW two of them. The other two were shots in the dark.) That game is almost as infuriating as those golf-tees-in-the-wooden-triangle puzzles they have at Cracker Barrel restaurants.

      Comment by Editrix — July 18, 2008 @ 8:14 am | Reply

    4. I got some of them wrong because I was going for word *origin,* when the question was about “what does it mean.”

      Flibbertigibbet, is the one I’m thinking of. The question was, what does it mean. I thought they meant, what did it FIRST mean, so I guessed the “underwater lure” answer.

      (though it looks as though that’s the etymology anyway–flebergebet in ME, which apparently meant the same thing then)

      Comment by TootsNYC — July 18, 2008 @ 9:55 am | Reply

    5. I got 9 out of 10. Some of the etymologies are wrong (as are some of entries in the Online Etymology Dictionary). “bistro” is not from the Russian for “quick”. On the other hand, the wrong etymologies tend to get removed or corrected.

      Comment by goofy — July 18, 2008 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

    6. I got 4 out of 10 as well. Most of them were educated guesses. My second choices on a lot of the others was the right answer…

      Comment by mlmnttlkr — July 18, 2008 @ 2:09 pm | Reply

    7. 10/10, folks. Though my questions appear to have differed from some of the ones mentioned here.

      Comment by Mr. K-- — July 19, 2008 @ 7:18 pm | Reply

    8. Wow, I was sure before we even started that the gold star was going to go to Goofy, but Mr. K sneaks in for the win!

      Comment by mighty red pen — July 21, 2008 @ 6:11 pm | Reply

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