Hand drawn Westeros

‘Have you seen the others in your fires?’ he [Tyrion] asked warily.

‘Only their shadows,’ Moqorro said. ‘One most of all. A tall and twisted thing with one black eye and ten long arms, sailing on a sea of blood.’

Westeros022_text cleaned_posterised_small.jpg

Higher definitions available.




Parsnip: Word Origin

Parsnip is a surprisingly interesting word for its humble meaning. It comes to English from the Old French pasnaie, which is from the Latin pastinare, meaning ‘to dig up the ground’. The verb pastinare is derived from the Latin pastinum meaning a hoed field, or the action of hoeing, or a two pronged dibble tool.

The end of parsnip is different from pasnaie because it was merged with the older English neep, which was used for turnips, and is derived from another Latin word, napus, meaning turnip or rapeseed. The Latin napus itself comes from the Ancient Greek νᾶπυ (nâpu), which meant mustard, and probably came from Ancient Egyptian.

By comparison a turnip gets its turn- from the shape, as though it had been turned on a lathe.

Bachelor: Word Origin

Bachelor now carries the sense of an unmarried man but in Middle English, when it first entered the language, it had the meaning of a young knight serving under another’s banner because he was not old or wealthy enough to have his own followers.

The modern sense emerged at least by Chaucer’s time, in the 14th Century, for he uses it in that meaning.

The Old French word, bacheler, derives from the Italian baccalare, but from there it is uncertain. One theory is it comes via the Late Latin baccalarius, a vassal farmer. A baccalaria is a field belonging to a lord, which is likely related to vacca, meaning cow. Another theory understands that the word is related to the Latin baculum meaning ‘stick’, due to young knights training with sticks.

By the 14th Century bachelor had come to mean guild members, young monks, or students at universities. From this we obtain the sense of a bachelor’s degree.

[Boswell] I do indeed come from Scotland, but I cannot help it…

[Johnson] That, Sir, I find, is what a very great many of your countrymen cannot help.

Samuel Johnson. English poet, critic and lexicographer.

In Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson vol. 1 p392 (16 May 1763).


Word origins: Barista

Barista comes to English from Italian, where a barista is a bartender. The Italian word derives from the English bar and the suffix -ista which comes from the Latin prefix -ista meaning one who practices something. A little like describing a musician who plays the cello as a ‘cellist’. or a person who rides a bicycle as a cyclist. Any word like economist, sexist, dentist, activist is derived from this root.

This Latin suffix is derived from Ancient, -ιστής (-istḗs), from  -ίζω (-ízō) used to form verbs from nouns and adjectives, and the suffix τής (-tḗs) used to form agent nouns. Words in Ancient Greek that use this suffix include ἁγίζω (hagízō) meaning to make sacred or hallow, from the root ἅγιος (hágios) meaning holy, the origin of words such as hagiography, meaning writing to do with Saints. The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is the church of Holy Wisdom.

Picture: Word Origin

Picture in English comes from the Latin pingere meaning ‘to paint’, via the Latin pictus, past particple form of pingere. This comes to English via French.

Pingere descends from the PIE *peyḱ- meaning colour, which is also the source of the Sanskrit  पिंशति (piṃśati) and the Greek πῐκρός (pikrós), meaning ‘to carve’ and ‘pointed’ respectively. Other descendant words include Greek  ποικίλος (poikílos, ‘coloured’), Sanskrit  पिशङ्ग (piśáṅga, ‘reddish’) and Lithuanian piẽšti ‘to draw’ among many others.

With picture we in English get words such as depict, with the de- prefix here meaning completely, and deriving from the Latin depingere, which can be translated as ‘portray’, but also paint or colour. Depingere occurs for instance in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses, at Book 6 chapter 29 in the form depictam.

A picture paints a thousands words, and dates to certainly 1927, and the Printer’s Ink magazine on December 8th, where that phrase appears as an ancient Chinese proverb. Some say the phrase originates from American Fred R. Barnard writing in that publication. Printers Ink also has the phrase appear in 1921 and 1927. Other examples include a newspaper quoting then editor Tess Flanders in 1911, and the Syracuse Advertising Club member Arthur Brisbane wrote in that same year ‘use a picture it’s worth a thousand words’. One instance of the phrase comes from a 1918 paper, and an advertisement for the San-Antonio Light newspaper.

Charlotte Brontë precedes them all, writing in Jane Eyre (1847) ‘the letter press I cared little for, each picture told a story’.

Freedom and Whisky gang thegither.

Robert Burns.

Scottish Poet.

‘The Author’s Earnest Cry and Prayer’ (1786) 1.185

If they [the Republicans] will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.

Adlai Stevenson.

American Democratic Politician. 

Speech suring 1952 Presidential campaign; in J.B. Martin Adlai Stevenson and Illinois (1976) ch. 8

Any man who hates dogs and babies can’t be all bad.

Leo Rosten

American writer and social scientist.

Of W.C. Fields, and often attributed to Fields, in speech of Masquers’ Club dinner, 16 February 1939.

A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.

Thomas Jefferson. 

3rd President of the United States of America.

Letter to James Madison, 30 January 1787m in Papers of Thomas Jefferson vol. 11 (1955) p.49