bric-a-brac english

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


In Uncategorized, VOCABULARY on November 26, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Bees buzz. If a bee has ever flown near you, you know what buzz means. (The word is a verb and a noun). We also use this word to describe the sound other insects make when they fly, and we use it to talk about any low, continuous, humming sound (e.g. machines, an aeroplane, people talking).

hum = the sound you make when you “sing” without opening your mouth; also a verb.

If you’re a basketball fun, you know that characteristic sound that marks the end of a game. That’s a buzzer. If a player scores a basket a few milliseconds (millisecond = 1/1000 of a second) before the buzzer goes off, that shot is a buzzer-beater. In some TV quiz shows, contestants have to quickly press a button when they think they know the right answer; that’s a buzzer too.

Because bees are such active and energetic little creatures, buzz as a verb also means to be busy, full of activity, excitement, energy. (The place was buzzing with excitement.) Charles Dickens first used the adjective abuzz to describe a place that is full of activity and noise. And if all this activity and excitement is inside your head, because it’s full of thoughts or ideas, you can say that your head/mind is buzzing. Mine is, right now.  And I must add that writing this post gives me a buzz – I’m excited about it! Completely buzzed-up (but only in the sense I’ve just explained, not because I’ve drunk too much or taken drugs).

If you say you’re going to buzz off, you’re ready to leave. And if you tell someone to buzz off, you want them to leave you alone – but don’t use this expression if you don’t want to sound rude. If you do tell someone to buzz off and then you regret it, you might want to give that person a buzz (a phone call) and apologise.

Finally, if – as I hope – a lot of people read this post and start using it all the time, buzz might become the next buzzword.


Coccinellidae (ladybird, ladybug)

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm

The Coccinellidae are a family of beetles, known variously as ladybirds (UK, Ireland, Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand, India and Malta) or ladybugs (originating in North America, spread through media to many other parts of the world). When they need to use a common name, entomologists widely prefer the names ladybird beetles or lady beetles as these insects are not true bugs. Lesser-used names include God’s cow, ladyclock, lady cow, and lady fly. Coccinellids are small insects, ranging from 1 mm to 10 mm (0.04 to 0.4 inches), and are commonly yellow, orange, or scarlet with small black spots on their wing covers, with black legs, head and antennae. Coccinelid is derived from the Latin word coccineus meaning scarlet. The name ladybird originated in Britain where the insects became known as Our Ladys bird or the Lady beetle. Mary (Our Lady) was often depicted wearing a red cloak in early paintings and the spots of the seven spot ladybird (the most common in Europe) were said to symbolise her seven joys and seven sorrows. [Source: Wikipedia]

In Greek, the ladybird is called paschalitsa (related to Pascha, Easter; you could translate it “Easter bug”).

Here’s a nursery rhyme about our little dotted lady:

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home
Your house is on fire and your children are gone
All except one, and that’s Little Anne
For she has crept under the warming pan.

A warming pan or bed warmer. On cold winter nights, you’d fill it with hot coals and put it under your bed covers.