Category Archives: Word origins

Looks at where words came from.

Bokeh — what is it?

bokeh_definitionBokeh is the word I am thinking of today.


I came across this word as I was  reading a book on digital photography.  It can be pronounced boh-kay or boh-kuh.  In addition to being an interesting word, it would score well in the game of Scrabble.

Definition of bokeh—The aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens.  It can also mean “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.”

A photo having a smooth, silky-looking out-of-focus area behind the main subject is said to have a nice bokeh.

The word bokeh is from the Japanese language.  It’s a translation of “mental haze.”



Dad bod –what is it?

Dad bod definition

Dad bod is a word I am hearing and seeing more and more.  I like to discuss dad_bod_definitiontrending words, so today it’s time to look at the definition of dad bod. says , “The term “dad bod” was virtually absent from American conversation until April 30, when a 19-year-old Clemson sophomore named Mackenzie Pearson penned a story in the Clemson Odyssey titled ‘Why Girls Love the Dad Bod.’ Her argument was counter-intuitive, suggesting that women are more attracted to men whose physiques reflect ‘a nice balance between a beer gut and working out’ than they are to hunks with washboard abs.”

A website called adds, “Dad bod is a male body type that is best described as ‘softly round.’ It’s built upon the theory that once a man has found a mate and fathered a child, he doesn’t need to worry about maintaining a sculpted physique.”

So maybe we don’t all have to have washboard abs, etc.—thank goodness.



Montebank — do you know one?

montebank definition


Mountebank is a word that I have never encountered.  I read the word recently, and thought I should investigate it.

Mountebank definition –

a person who sells quack medicines from a platform or a a boastful unscrupulous pretender.  This person may even be labeled a charlatan.
Origin of mountebank  — Italian montimbanco, from montare to mount + in in, on + banco, bancabench    It was first used in 1577.

Synonoms for mountebank:    phony, fraud, imposter, trickster, hoaxer

When thinking of this term, the 1970s craze of the pet rock came to mind.  Some might say that Gary Dahl, the inventor of this toy was a charlatan.  I disagree.  In my mind he was a marketing genius.  I must admit to falling for this crazy fad at the time.

By the way, Dahl died on March 23 of this year.



Freemiums Do you use them?


Freeiums  Are they really free?


Freemium has to be a fairly new word to the English language.   Freemium is a portmanteau, combining the words free and premium.

It is a pricing strategy where a product or service is provided free of charge. The free items usually are digital in nature.  In many cases, it is possible to upgrade to add more than is offered by the basic free product.

A free trial is not a freemium.  With a trial, you get to try something for free but only for a limited time.

A good example of a freemium is Linkedin.   This site allows anyone (for free) to add their profile, picture and bio.  If you want more features, you must pay Linkedin.

Another example—I have downloaded some digital books recently.  Yes, they are really free.  Sometimes the site offering them will show  you additional products or services for purchase. In many cases, it seems they also want to capture your email in hopes of selling you something in the future.

What good freemiums have you encountered?



Acrost or across — how to you get there?

acrost vs across





Is it Acrost or across?

Each part of the United States has some sort of accent along with terms unique to their area. I grew up in Iowa, living there for 18 years, but we do not have much of an accent.

There are some words that we mispronounce or at least say differently than the rest of the world.  One that my wife (a Coloradoan) corrects me on is “acrost.”   Apparently, the word is across. As in across the street not acrost the street.

Now, thanks to the blog, I know why I say speak this way.  The Iowan calls it speaking Iowish.   I like being an Iowishman better than my late father-in-law’s term Iowweigen.

The Iowan website says using acrost is more common in speech than in writing.  I agree.  It goes on to say that cites the Dictionary of American Regional English in reporting that a 1759 Massachusetts document contained the sentence “Ye enemy fird at our men a Crost ye River.”

At any rate, I am trying to speak proper English and say across instead of acrost.

Next time, this Iowishman will look at the word “wash.”   It seems there in no R in it. Hmmm.

Man spread — what the heck is it?

Man spread? Really!manspread-a definition

This is a new term, and is not made up.

Here is the definition of man spread or man-spread:

when men take up too much room on the subway by spreading their legs in a wide v shape.  Also, dangling your legs to take up extra space while seated on public transit or draping your legs across multiple seats.

I seldom ride public transit so I did not know this was a major problem but it is in large cities.  Apparently, an average chair is 17.5 inches wide, and this is home much space one should occupy on a bus or subway.

Some people are taking up more than their allotted space.  This can also be called bench hogging.

In Philadelphia signs on their transit system read “Dude it’s rude . . . Two seats — really?”  The New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) just launched an etiquette ad campaign that includes cartoon posters of a spread-eagled transit rider that says “Dude . . . Stop the Spread, Please. It’s a space issue.”

Who knew?


Haboob — What the heck is it?




Watch out for the haoob

I always look for unusual words when I am reading.  I also keep my ears open when I listen to talk radio or podcasts.

The other day, I saw a report about the recent six/seven feet of snow that got dumped on New York and the surrounding areas.

The report referred to the storm as a haboob.  Now there is a term that is new to me.

In my research, here is what I found for definitions of haboob.

The word “haboob” originated in the Arabic language.  The Arabic word, habb means “wind.”

It is a wall of dust resulting from a mircoburst or downburst of air.  The air forced downward is pushed forward by the front of a thunderstorm cell. This drags dust and debris with it as it moves along the ground.

Now you have a better understanding of the word haboob.