An Interesting Word – Interrobang

It could have been called the emphaquest or exclaragotive or interrapoint. It, however, was named the interrobang. You ask, what is it? Well, read on to find out!

The interrobang is a punctuation mark. It’s a combination of a question mark and an exclamation point.  According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the “interro” part of the word comes from the first part of “interrogation.” The “bang” part comes from printer’s slang for an exclamation point. It looks like a question mark on top of an exclamation point (or an exclamation point on top of a question mark, depending on how you see it :)).

When would you use an interrobang? Well, it would be used at the end of an incredulous or rhetorical question, such as, “He did what?!”

It was first invented in 1962 by Martin Speckter. A 1967 Time magazine article said, “If the interabang gains the acceptance of grammarians, printers and writers, it will be the first punctuation symbol to enter the printed language since the introduction of the quotation mark during the late 17th century.” It lost popularity by the end of the ’60s, however, and fell into obscurity. Today, you can find it in some modern typefaces, such as Wingdings 2, although it’s still not considered proper punctuation. The gnaborretin (interrobang backwards) is an upside down interrobang and is the Spanish version of the symbol.

I found a fantastic video about the history of the interrobang. The girl in the video even sells interrobang necklaces if you like to wear punctuation!

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

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An Interesting Word – Taradiddle

Now, I’m not telling a taradiddle when I say that this is a strange-sounding, strange-looking word. I found it in a slideshow from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary called “Funny-Sounding and Interesting Words.” Taradiddle certainly fits the bill for “An Interesting Word” post!

Just what IS a taradiddle? No, it’s not a fish or a tropical fruit or a type of weather system. It’s a British term (the Brits get all the awesome words! 😉 ) meaning “a fib” or “pretentious nonsense.” In both cases it’s used as a noun. Its first known use was in a 1796 dictionary. Some have tried to claim it comes from the old English verb “diddle,” meaning to cheat, but no one’s been able to prove that. If someone tells you that they know the true history of the word taradiddle, you can tell them that they’re telling you a taradiddle! 🙂 Authors such as G.K. Chesterton and George Orwell are well-known users of this word.

You can learn more about taradiddle from Merriam-Webster’s word of the day podcast:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day/2013/01/14/

~ Kayla

An Interesting Word – Cornucopia

Happy Thanksgiving! In honor of the holiday today, I thought I’d do an interesting word relating to Thanksgiving, so I picked cornucopia. While it’s a common word (especially at this time of year), it’s also a very interesting one.

Cornucopia has two main definitions. It can mean either a container that is shaped like a horn and is full of fruits and flowers and other edibles or a great abundance of something, according to various online dictionaries. It’s from the Latin cornu copiae which means “horn of plenty.” Cornucopias probably started in Greek mythology. According to the myth, the Greek god Zeus, while in hiding from his father Cronus, was fed by a goat named Amalthea.  The goat’s horn was broken off at some point and was given powers to provide sustenance that never ran out. The cornucopia, it was later believed, could be filled with whatever the person who held it desired. I would want my cornucopia filled with chocolate! 🙂

Here’s a link to a video of how to make a cornucopia out of bread. It’s really cool!

http://allrecipes.com/video/4063/how-to-make-a-cornucopia/detail.aspx

~Kayla

An Interesting Word – Blimey

Blimey is a totally awesome word. Besides the fact that it’s British (I would love to visit the UK one day), this word has been in many of my favorite books, movies, plays, and even youtube videos. The very first place I encountered it was the youtube channel, Blimey Cow.

So, just what does this word mean? Blimey is a British slang word used to express surprise or annoyance. It originally came from the words “God blind me!” which then were shortened to “gorblimey” or “cor blimey.” It originated in Britain in the 1880’s. It can be spelled “blimey” or “bly me.”

I had NO trouble finding quotes for this great word.

It is found in the play Pygmalion (which inspired my favorite musical, My Fair Lady) by George Bernard Shaw in Act 1, when Colonel Pickering, Professor Higgins, and Alfred Doolittle first see the clean version of Eliza Doolittle, the heroine of the play. Alfred exclaims, “Bly me! It’s Eliza!”

Another book that uses the word  is one of my favorites, The Hobbit. In the chapter entitled “Roast Mutton,” Bilbo sneaks up on the trolls and is caught. The troll named William says, “Blimey, Bert, look what I’ve copped!”

And finally, what kind of “blimey” post would this be without including a Blimey Cow video? 🙂

~ Kayla

An Interesting Word – Foofaraw

This is a very strange word. It sounds funny, and it looks funny. I first saw the word on my favorite internet thesaurus (thesaurus.com), after clicking on a slideshow called, “Seven Wacky Words Born in the USA.”

So, just what is a foofaraw? No, it’s not some strange exotic bird or an alien race from Star Trek. It actually has two different meanings. From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, the first definition is “frills or flashy finery.” Definition number two is a little surprising, since foofaraw also means, “a disturbance or to-do over trifles.” In both cases it is used as a noun. The word seems to come from the Spanish word fanfarron, which means a braggart or a blusterer. Another possible source for the word is from the French word, frou -frou, which means frills.

A very interesting article about this word is found here: http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-foo1.htm

I couldn’t find any great quotes containing the word foofaraw (I wasn’t too surprised). But please, no foofaraws about no quotes with foofaraw. I did find a video:

~ Kayla

An Interesting Word – View Halloo

Many have heard it from the classic Disney movie, Mary Poppins. I actually encountered the word first in a Sherlock Holmes case, “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton,” used when Holmes and Watson were burglarizing Mr. Milverton’s house. “…and one fellow raised a view-halloa as we emerged from the veranda and followed hard at our heels.” The word is “view halloa” or the more commonly spelled “view halloo.” Both spellings are found with dashes and without dashes.

So, what is a view halloo? Well, according to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, view halloo is “used in fox hunting on seeing a fox break cover.” In other words, a view halloo is a sharp call used to alert the other members of the fox hunting party that a fox has been spotted. Its first known use was in 1761.

Another instance of the word is found in 221b, a poem by Vincent Starrett, which is about Sherlock Holmes, “But still the game’s afoot for those with ears, Attuned to catch the distant view-halloo…” And of course there’s the classic moment in Mary Poppins. (Which in my personal opinion, is the best moment of the entire movie. :))

~ Kayla