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Haggard Hawks and Paltry Poltroons

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The sub-head explains it: The Origins of English in Ten Words. So you get fifty English words (most of them very common) each with brief details of its history, plus details on ten words derived from the headword. One of the fifty, for example, is foot – a common enough word which has been around since the 9th century. Then come the ten words derived from foot. One of them is octopus – included because –pus is derived from the Ancient Greek word for foot. Another one is pedigree – of French origin, derived from an Anglo-French term for Stork’s Foot.

Another of the ten is supplant – and you can quickly see the connection to the Latin word planta meaning the sole of the foot. The first of the fifty entries gives ten words derived from places in Britain, including Surrey for a two-seater horse drawn carriage – as in The Surrey with the Fringe on Top from Oklahoma. For anyone interested in words and in the English language, this is a joy.

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