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Etymoleon - Word History, etymology
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Etymoleon - Word History, etymology

Author: Leon Bailey-Green

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Etymoleon, a weekly 15 minute etymology podcast, gets into the world of word history and origins. Join host Leon Bailey-Green as he researches and explores the historical and linguistic roots of words, names and phrases tied to diverse topics. 

Without claiming expertise in linguistics or history, Leon assumes the role of an avid researcher, presenting analyses of how words have evolved over time.

Each episode unveils the journey of words, dissecting their transformations and connections to various languages such as Old English, Ancient Greek, Latin, Old French, Proto-Germanic and many more.

Expect a linguistic exploration but also snippets of historical events linked to the chosen words.

New episodes every Sunday. Podcast takes a break prior to bank holidays of England & Wales.

42 Episodes
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42. Hair

42. Hair

2024-06-0915:23

In this episode we're taking a look at hair terminology, including the etymology behind diverse synonyms for hair, including dreads, mane and tresses. Learn about intriguing connections such as the association between the term "alopecia" and foxes, and the link between pomades and apples. Ever wondered about the origins of the word "shampoo" or the emergence of hair conditioners in the mid-century era? Listen to uncover the history. Also explored in this episode is the visionary behind the ic...
41. Gestures

41. Gestures

2024-06-0214:02

This episode uncovers various theories behind why and how we use certain non-verbal gestures to communicate, along with the origins of the terms that describe them. Discover the surprising history behind gestures like the high-five, said to be popularised by American baseball, and elbow touching, first suggested by the World Health Organization in 2006. The word smirk, once meant "to smile," before the emergence of the word smile itself. We also look into gestures like kissing the teeth, shak...
40. Furniture

40. Furniture

2024-05-1914:12

This time we're looking into furniture terminology, from the interchangeably used couch, sofa and settee to futon and hammock, which derive from the languages of their origin. Learn why the history of the dining room sideboard, known as the credenza, is rooted in the fear of food poisoning, and trace the origins of the word chair back to its Ancient Greek roots.
39. Names: C

39. Names: C

2024-05-1215:30

This episode explores the origins and meanings of names beginning with the letter C. Discover surprising connections between the name Charles and the term churlish, both rooted in a Germanic language word. Uncover how a Latin word meaning "hairless" influenced terms like Calvinism and chauvinist, named after historical figures. Explore the origin of the word curt, leading to the name Courtney, which means "short," and get into Gaelic roots with names like Colin and Callum.
38. English Breakfast

38. English Breakfast

2024-04-2814:28

In this episode, we get into the history of the Full English Breakfast, a dish that took shape around the 18th century. Explore the etymological origins of its essential components such as sausages, eggs, bacon, black pudding and baked beans. Uncover the intriguing story of why tomatoes were once known as 'love apples'. Additionally, discover the connection between the uses of term 'toast', and why it's associated not only with bread, but also with the raising of glasses in celebration.
37. Phobias

37. Phobias

2024-04-2114:46

In this episode, we delve into the world of phobias, uncovering the etymological origins behind words associated with deep-seated fears. Explore the roots of well-known phobias like arachnophobia, acrophobia and claustrophobia, as well as the lesser-known oenophobia, the fear of wine. Additionally, we explore the linguistic origins of glossophobia, an aversion to public speaking, and gymnophobia, associated with nudity-related fears. Trace the earlier versions of everyday expressions such as ...
36. Family Members

36. Family Members

2024-04-1415:00

In this episode, we explore the evolution of family member terminology, unravelling the origins of words such as mother, brother, nephew and cousin in English. Many of these familial designations have undergone significant changes over time; for instance, the term "niece" once referred to a granddaughter. Discover when terms like "co-parent", "glam-ma" (glamorous grandma) and "removed" first appeared. Furthermore, learn about the revival of the Old English term "sibb" in the early 20th centur...
35. Cocktails

35. Cocktails

2024-04-0715:30

This time, we're delving into the origins of famous cocktail drinks and uncovering the intriguing stories behind their names. The Bloody Mary, for instance, is rumoured to be named after a theatre production, while the name Mai Tai is thought to translate to 'good' or 'best'. The term "cocktail" itself has a mysterious origin, with some speculating a connection to horses. Additionally, we explore the significance of the word 'colada' in Pina Colada, which means 'strained' in Spanish and share...
34. Spring

34. Spring

2024-03-2414:08

This episode looks at words of the spring season. The month of March is named after the Roman god of war Mars, and the month of May was once known as 'the month of three milks'. As for the term 'spring clean', various theories exist to explain why this season is so connected to tidying. Delve into the etymological roots of springtime British vegetables like kale and asparagus, as well as the names Heath, Hyacinth and Daisy, which evoke the essence of spring.
33. Pregnancy

33. Pregnancy

2024-03-1714:01

This episode uncovers the linguistic roots behind words associated with pregnancy and childbirth. For some generations the word pregnant is considered taboo which is why phrases like 'with child' and 'in the family way' emerged. Discover how the placenta's name harks back to an ancient cake, and how the umbilical cord derives its name from the Latin word for 'navel'. We also get into the surprising origins of the word 'gestation', originally more aligned with equine activity than pregnancy. A...
32. Names: B

32. Names: B

2024-03-1013:44

In this episode, we delve into the meanings and etymology of names commencing with the letter 'B'. Unravel the intriguing connections as Barbara's roots intertwine with the word 'barbarian', and find out why Bridget is responsible for the term 'old biddy'. Despite their similar sound, Brendan and Brenda boast distinct etymological origins. Additionally explored are the histories behind names like Benedict, Basil, Benjamin and Bianca.
31. Sports

31. Sports

2024-03-0314:23

This episode delves into the origins of sports names, embarking on a journey that begins with the intertwined history of Football, Rugby and Soccer. Explore the linguistic roots behind the names of sports like Pickleball, Tennis and Golf. The equestrian sport of Polo, brought to England by tea planters returning from India, finds its origins in Persia with the ancient game known as Chowgan. Beyond the field, this episode also delves into the name origins of sporting pioneers behind Air Jordan...
30. Stereotypes

30. Stereotypes

2024-02-2513:38

This episode delves into the intricate world of stereotypes, uncovering the historical evolution of names such as Karen, Keisha and Chad. Gain an understanding of the stereotypes associated with these names and explore their origins. Trace the linguistic journeys that introduced terms like prejudice, bias and stereotype into the English language. Also explored are the origins of words like bourgeoisie, YUPPIE, bimbo and diva.
29. Fine Dining

29. Fine Dining

2024-02-1814:09

This time we're exploring the language of fine dining. Unravel the linguistic origins behind terms such as "foie gras", where "gras" means fat and traces back to a Latin word which is also the root of the word "grease". Discover the etymology of words like "restaurant", "a la carte", "flambé", and "sous vide", and delve into the link between Michelin tyres and Michelin star ratings. Additionally, we uncover the historical background of the term "Thermidor" in the context of the renowned lobst...
28. Valentine's Day

28. Valentine's Day

2024-02-1113:57

This episode investigates the history of words associated with love and romance. Delve into the theory surrounding the inception of Valentine's Day and uncover the connection between the term 'darling' and the concept of being expensive. Explore the reason why red roses are linked to love, and unravel theories behind the term 'French kiss' for an intimate lip-lock involving tongues.
In this episode, we explore the intriguing correlation between people's names and their professions. Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter renowned for his speed, aptly carries the surname "Bolt". Weather presenters Amy Freeze and Sara Blizzard have last names that embody the essence of their forecasts, while the founder of a major financial company appropriately bears the surname Fairbank. Dive into the fascinating world of nominative determinism and aptronyms to unravel the meanings and origins...
26. Business

26. Business

2024-01-2815:41

This time we're looking at the etymological origins of business terms, from the Ancient Greek origins of the words monopoly and duopoly, to the words describing the leader of a business such as 'entrepreneur', 'founder', 'director' and 'boss'. This episode also strips back the word 'company' to the root Latin word for bread and explores the name and surname meanings of British entrepreneurs Richard Branson, Anita Roddick and James Dyson.
25. Chocolate Bars

25. Chocolate Bars

2024-01-2115:19

This time, indulge in a delectable episode tracing the name roots of chocolate bars beloved in Britain and America. Discover the fascinating history behind these confectionery delights, learning when they first graced shelves. The Snickers is named after a Mars family horse and its former UK name has ties to a vegetable. This episode also delves into the etymology of Daim, Twix, Lion, and the American Hershey's and Dove, as well as the surname origins behind Cadbury, Ferrero and Lindt.
24. Crime

24. Crime

2024-01-1415:48

This episode peels back the layers of criminal language, exposing the etymology behind words linked to true crime. Journey through the linguistic roots of terms like detective, suspect, forensic and motive. The word landscape of taking without permission is explored with words like loot, shoplifting, theft and burglary, as are words of mortality like murder, manslaughter and homicide. Also looked into are the newly coined terms for digital crimes like phishing and revenge porn and additionall...
23. Positivity

23. Positivity

2024-01-0714:31

This time we're diving into positivity, dissecting the origins of uplifting words like resolution, goal, determined and aspiration. Delve into the history behind 'turn over a new leaf' and origin theories surrounding 'bite the bullet.' Also explored are the words ambition, self improvement and persevere.
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