My latest used book find is a volume by Chloe Rhodes discussing the origin of foreign words used in English. She provides a definition and humorous example. I’ll try not to overdo this, but I’ll occasionally share one with my Facebook friends.
“Skol,” meaning “cheers” (Danish/Norwegian/Swedish).
Like all groups of marauding invaders, the Vikings liked a little tipple at the end of the working day. The word they used to accompany a toast was “skol,” which has often been mistranslated as “skull” because of the Vikings’ mythical practice of drinking out of the skulls of their victims. In fact, the word comes from the old Norse word “skal,” meaning “shell” or “bowl.”
Example: Martin woke up dressed in a tutu and tied to a lamppost. He tried to piece together the events that had led him there, but all he could remember was shouting “skol” before everything went dark.
Here’s another example from Chloe Rhodes’ book explaining the origin of foreign words used in English. She provides a definition and humorous example.
“In flagrante delicto,” meaning “in the blazing offense” (Latin).
This is a legal term that means that someone has been caught in the act of committing a crime. In modern English, the phrase is often shortened to “in flagrante” and usually preceded by the word “caught,” so it is interchangeable with “red-handed.”
Outside the law, it is used widely to refer to the interruption of any illicit act, and through this usage, it has also become a euphemism for being caught in a sexual act, even one where everything is above board.
Example: The Petersons had been rather less adventurous in their lovemaking since they were caught in the bushes in flagrante by the vicar and his cocker spaniel.