Continuing our ongoing “where does this word/phrase come from?,” for some reason this week I was inundated with things I had to know the meaning of.
Putting “English” on something (usually a ball, like billiards or bowling) – is a kind of spin imparted on a ball, coined about 1860, from the French anglé, “angled,” which is similar to the French word for English, “Anglais.”
I don’t know if either of these methods will help put a little English on your ball, but this is the best bowling movie ever. 🙂
Willy-nilly – First recorded in 1608, it apparently is the contraction of “will I, nill I” “will ye, nill ye” literally meaning “with or without the will of the person concerned.”
photo credit (the electric company has it goin’ on!)
Mustard – This one was much harder to track down! Taken from NowPublic:
Here’s how it went. The old Romans mixed the crushed seeds from
this plant with grape juice. Of course when grape juice ferments it
becomes wine—a connection to Dijon. But before grape juice ferments it
isn’t called wine, it’s called must because those Romans again called “new wine” mustum.
So now imagine yourself back in Rome in your toga and you take a big
gulp of this must that has a bunch of these crushed seeds in it. Your
face turns red and you begin to sweat and you remark that this must is
damn spicy. In fact it’s fiery.
Shifting gears for just a second I want to point out that our English word ardent, as in “I love my wife ardently”, comes from the Latin word for “fire.”
So back to the fiery grape juice. In Latin fiery grape juice is mustum ardens. Pop those two Latin words into the food processor and squish together in the French manner and out comes our word mustard; mustum ardens … mustard.