Blog Archives

The Curious Origin of the Word ‘Trilby’

How did the famous trilby hat get its name?

Here’s a question for you: what was the biggest-selling novel of the Victorian era? And who wrote it – Dickens perhaps? George Eliot? Robert Louis Stevenson? It was none of these, though they all enjoyed huge sales. Instead, the accolade arguably goes to a man who was principally known, not as a novelist at all, but as a cartoonist. (We say ‘arguably’ because reliable sales figures for nineteenth-century books are not always easy to find.) Read the rest of this entry


10 Weird and Wonderful Words about Literature and Reading

Interesting words related to literature and reading

We love to collect interesting words, especially those related to literature, reading, and other such things. Indeed, since the stuff of literature is words, we love to delve into the wonderful world of the lexical. Here are ten of the best literary words we’ve encountered recently, with a definition for each. If you enjoy these words, you’ll probably enjoy our 10 words for book-lovers and our 10 words for writers.

A panchreston is a broad thesis that purports to cover all aspects of its subject but usually ends up as a gross oversimplification.

Papyrocracy is government by paper, especially newspapers and literature.

Rhapsodomancy is divining the future by picking a passage of poetry at random. Read the rest of this entry

The Curious Origin of the Word ‘Unfriend’

The interesting history of ‘unfriend’

The word ‘unfriend’ is, like the word ‘muggle’, one that has a curious history: ‘unfriend’ had a life before Facebook. Its principal meaning now is to delete somebody as a friend on a social media side, especially Facebook, but it has been used variously as both a noun and verb since at least the thirteenth century. Its origins are somewhat surprising. Read the rest of this entry