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Words and Phrases Part Eight

It’s V, W, and X from The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, 4th Edition (Facts on File Writer's Library) by Robert Hendrickson (published in 2008).

Vampire Vampire is one of the few English words of Hungarian origin. It comes from the Magyar vampir and is infrequently spelled that way, although its ultimate source may be the Turkish uber, “witch.” This word for a creature of the living dead, “a reanimated corpse” that spends its nights searching for human blood to quaff, is first recorded in English in 1734, and is the same in Russian, Polish, Czechoslovakian, Serbian, and Bulgarian. The term vampire was popularized by Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) and some 47 spinoffs on the novel.

Verdigris This greenish or blueish patina, formed on copper and other surfaces when they are exposed to the atmosphere for long periods, takes its name from the Old French vert de grece, “green of Greece.” The reason for the name is not known, nor is the reason why people later called the patina the “Spanish green.” The word verdigris can be traced to the 14th century in Europe.

The whiskey is all right but the meat is weak Computers will never take the place of human translators, as the above illustrates. It is said to have been produced recently by an electronic translator as a translation of the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!

Wow! As an exclamation of surprise, admiration, etc., wow derives from Scottish wow! meaning the same, an exclamation that dates back to the early 16th century. For some 10 years a wow has meant “something excellent” and to wow has meant “to gain great approval,” especially from an audience.

Xenia Xenia were the gifts, usually delicacies from the table, that subjects in the Middle Ages presented to their prince when he passed through their estates. The Romans and Greeks had a similar custom, offering xenia to guests and strangers passing by, and the word, in fact, derives from the Greek for “guest or stranger.” The singular is xenium.

Xyst A xyst (pronounced zist) is a garden walk planted with trees, or covered portico in a garden used as a promenade. Both were common in Roman villas and take their name from the Latin xystus, “garden terrace.”

As you stroll along the xyst at night, beware of vampires :->

Happy Writing :->

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