I Know that Expression! (Part 12)

April 11, 2020


Here are a few of my favorite entries, all beginning with the letter “L,"  from Word and Phrase Origins, a thoroughly delightful book published in 1997.


Lava. The word derives from the Latin labes ("sliding down"), a reference to the molten rock that flows down a mountain from a volcano. 


Lido.  A lido is a spit of land that encloses a lagoon, a bathing beach, or a swimming pool. It takes its name from the Lido resort in Venice, Italy which is on such a spit of land. 


Lima beans. These beans are named for Lima, Peru by early European explorers who discovered them there. Because of their tenderness, lima beans are often called butter beans, at least in the United States. 


Linguine. Centuries ago, some poetic person in Italy thought that this thin, flat pasta looked like "little tongues," which is what linguine means in Italian. 


Listerine. A brand name that is practically synonymous with mouthwash, Listerine takes its name from Joseph Lister (1827-1912), famous for founding antiseptic surgery. 




A note about the author: Word and Phrase Origins was written by Robert Hendrickson, the author of more than 25 other books, including American Literary Anecdotes, New York Tawk, and More Cunning than Man: A Social History of Rats and Men.





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