We usually understand cinematography as the art or technique of motion-picture photography, a very visual medium. The term comes from the French word cinématographe, which was originally coined by the Lumiere brothers, combining a form of the Ancient Green word kínēma, meaning kinetic or movement, with graphe, or graphy, meaning writing or recording. In other words, cinematography might be thought of “moving writing.”
A common definition of paraphernalia reads: miscellaneous articles, especially the equipment needed for a particular activity. But in the 1650s, paraphernalia actually referred to “a woman’s property besides her dowry.”
Diamonds are known for being precious and extremely hard. So it’s fitting then that the word finds its root in the Latin adamentem, which means “the hardest metal.” X-men fans known of course than Wolverine’s skeleton is fortified with adamantium.
When we act on a hunch, we’re acting on a feeling or guess based on intuition. Like that feeling you just have in your bones. Acting on intuition. This particular usage of the term though comes from an early American gangster’s term. According to a gambling superstition (and a belief that goes back even hundreds of years earlier), touching a hunchback’s hump would bring good luck.
We usually think of a handicap as being a disability or disadvantage, but the word originates in the contraction “hand in cap,” the name of a betting game in which players put forfeit-money in a cap and then drew from it. A different version of this process was later applied to arrangements for horse races, where the superior one would carry extra weight. Racing authorities took over the term when formulating modern horse racing rules to give a weight advantage to some horses to even out the playing field in a race. The word now is used more generally for something that hinders.
A silhouette is the dark shape or outline of something against a lighter background. The word made its appearance in 1798, (French: silhouette), in reference to French minister of finance, Étienne de Silhouette. The word referenced an inexpensive way of making a likeness of someone, an insulting reference to Silhouette’s economic policies during the Seven Years’ War. Another theory also claims that silhouette portraits were so called because they came into fashion in the same year Silhouette was minster. The word then started to describe any sort of dark outline or shadow in profile. It’s alsi itneresting to note that the family name Silhouette is a Frenchified form of a Basque surname. Arnaud de Silhouette, the finance minister’s father, was from Biarritz in the French Basque country; the southern Basque form of the name would be Zuloeta or Zulueta, which contains the suffix –eta (“abundance of”) and zulo (“hole” — possibly here meaning “cave”).
A clue, of course, is something that aids in the solving of a problem or mystery. The word though comes from the original word “clew,” meaning a ball of string or yarn. According to Green mythology, when Theseus set on the task of killing the Minotaur and entered the Labyrinth, he unraveled a “clew” behind him so that he could find his way back. The spelling of the word became “clue” in the mid 1500s.
This next one is dedicated to Entropy editor Michael J Seidlinger. The word whiskey is the shortened version of whiskeybae, which comes from the old English word usquebae, which comes from the combination of two Gaelic words: uisce (water) and bethu (life). So whiskey then literally means “water of life.” Cheers.
An assassin is usually defined as someone who murders an important person for political or religious reasons. In the 1530s, members of a fanatical Muslim sect, under the leadership of the “Old Man of the Mountains,” made a reputation for murdering opposing leaders after intoxicating themselves by eating hashish. This gave them the name hashishiyyin, or “hashish-users.” The modern day word is the result of centuries of mispronunciation.
Eavesdropping is the secret listening to the private conversation of others without their consent. Before the invention of guttering, roofs were made with wide eaves, or overhangs, so that rain water could be directed to fall away from the building. This area was known as the eavedrop. This large overhang gave room for those who wanted to lurk in the shadows and listen to other people’s conversations.