Posts by Lady Louise

Are you under the weather?

Winter seems to be the season when we are most likely to suffer from a variety of illnesses — flu, cold and stomach viruses. Even if we are not sick enough to visit a doctor, we may feel under the weather.

The phrase, meaning to feel unwell or sick, sounds odd when used in relation to health.

Under the weather almost sounds as though a person has been caught outside in the rain or a storm.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, however, the phrase has its origins with those traveling on ships. Rough seas and winds would send travelers and sailors below deck to prevent them from becoming seasick. Therefore, people were seeking safe refuge in a place that was under the weather.

The complete phrase is “under the weather bow,” which referred to the side of the ship assaulted by the bad weather.

(Illustration by Sira Anamwong, freedigitalphotos,net)

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For your vocabulary

PenultimateWe heard a word being used and thought we knew the meaning. However, the Editorial Assistant, Mom Karen, looked up the word to know for certain.

The word is penultimate, meaning next to the last or the one before the last — such as the penultimate chapter in a book or the penultimate act in a play.

The word was first used in the late 17th century and comes from Latin paenultimus, from paene (almost) + ultimus (last). It is a great word to use when you write and want a phrase other than “next to the last.”

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Interesting word in the news


The recent news of consumers threatening to boycott certain stores or businesses because of political frustration led us to look up the word — not because of its meaning but to understand its origin.

We were surprised to find that the word boycott, now written with a lower case “b,” originated during the Irish Land War in the fall of 1880.  At the time, tenant farmers in rural Ireland had a poor harvest and were seeking to pay lower rents.

According to the blog of the Oxford English Dictionary, the Irish Land League was working for better conditions for the farmers and using tactics to push back against the landlords and their agents.  Captain Charles C. Boycott, an agent for one of the land owners, refused to meet the terms of the farmers and the league and became the focus of tensions.

When conditions reached a boiling point, almost every servant or farmer at the estate  where Boycott worked was driven off and told not to come back. Newspapers retaliated and urged the public shunning of landlords and their agents. Boycott was unable to find workers to work the harvest, businesses refused to sell to him and his area community shunned him. By December 1880, the Illustrated London News noted that to “Boycott” had become an active verb, meaning to intimidate or “to taboo.”

The word and the action represented were adopted by other European languages, including French boycotter (1880), German boycottieren (1893; now boykottieren), Dutch boycotten (1904), and Russian bojkotirovat (1891).


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Words on Writing


 Your dog sitting on your computer is not a valid excuse for not writing!

The Editorial Assistant, Mom Karen, often is asked about how to go about writing. The question usually comes from people who want to write a book but don’t know how. She says that the answer is simple: You put fingers to keyboard or take a pen or pencil to paper and just write. It is the only way to achieve your goal, whether it’s writing a book, a short story, a poem or an essay — or whatever your written goal is.

Being prepared is important, of course. Maybe you’ll want to take a class or classes in creative writing or conduct research on your subject or brush up on your grammar.

However, the Editorial Assistant believes that too many people get caught up in “a process” of writing and ignore the obvious — taking action and writing. Even if it’s awful writing at first, writing only gets better by doing more. The “process” won’t do it for you. But a delete button to remove unwanted words or sentences will. That’s the “just get writing” advice we’re giving you.

Some of the best-known writers agree. At, you’ll find an interesting slideshow featuring quotes from well-known writers on how to write. Take their advice to heart and go!

Here’s the link — — for words of inspiration.


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Are you sentimental?



Have you thought about the words that express our feelings?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary has compiled a list of “mushy words” that  are a perfect fit for this week of hearts and love.

Included in the list from Merriam-Webster is the word sentimental, which has its origin in the Latin word sentire, meaning “to feel.” If you are a sentimental person, then you may have strong feelings of love or sadness which may seem excessive or even foolish to some people.

Check out a few more of these words, including chocolate-box, cloying and crush, to know more about the meaning and origins of the words of love in our vocabulary. Visit to boost your “mushy” vocabulary.

(Illustration by hyena reality,







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