Words

Word With a Past: Mausoleum

September 6, 2011

When King Mausolos of Caria * died in 353 BCE his widow decided to honor him by building a marble tomb more wonderful than any building known to man.  (We’ve seen this kind of thing before.  Taj Mahal anyone?)  She sent to Greece for the best architects and sculptors.  When it was completed the Mausoleum […]

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Word With a Past: Juggernaut

August 29, 2011

The Hindu god Krishna is worshiped in the form of Jagannatha (Lord of the World) in a famous 12th c temple in Puri, in the Indian state of Orissa. The most important of the annual festivals associated with the Jagannatha temple is the Chariot Festival.  The god’s image is placed in a highly decorated wagon […]

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Public toilets, heads of state and –teddy bears?

July 28, 2011

A few people have weighed in with answers to my question on a previous post outside the comments box.  Some of them were too good not to share.  In addition to vespesianos and London bobbies, here are some more eponymous tributes to heads of state, statesmen, and mere politicians: 1.  The Teddy bear, named after […]

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Public Toilets and Heads of State

July 19, 2011

As those of you who are reading along know, I recently learned that public toilets are called vespasianos in Italy, after the Roman emperor Vespasian, who introduced the concept to the empire.  This led my brain to London bobbies, named after British Prime Minister Robert Peel, who founded the London police when he was Home […]

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Word with a Past: Assassin

July 5, 2011

The original Assassins were members of a revolutionary Shiite splinter group founded in eleventh century Persia by Hassan Sabbah. Like many schismatic religious groups, the Assassins believed that Muslims, including mainstream Shiites, had taken a wrong turn.  Islam needed to go back to its foundations.  As far as other Muslims were concerned, Sabbah’s beliefs were […]

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Word With a Past: Maffick

June 21, 2011

The Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) started badly from the British point of view.  British troops, supposedly the best trained and best equipped in the world, suffered a series of humiliating defeats at the hands of Boer farmers.  (Anyone else hear echoes of another colonial war that pitted farmers against British regulars?) The only bright spot […]

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A Word With a Past: Kidnap

June 7, 2011

In the mid-seventeenth century, the British colonies in North America and the Caribbean were suffering from a labor shortage. The colonies had originally attracted Britain’s surplus population: dreamers, fortune-hunters, religious nuts, younger sons, prisoners of war, political failures, vagrants, criminals, the homeless, and the desperate.  Some came with a small financial stake.  Many came as […]

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