bric-a-brac english

Posts Tagged ‘miscellaneous’

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.

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bric-a-brac

In VOCABULARY on November 21, 2012 at 11:58 am

Since bric-a-brac is what this blog is about, I thought I’d start with this lovely word.

Pronunciation: brik-uh-brak

It’s also spelt bricabrac and bric-à-brac (which betrays its French origin). It means, various objects, usually of no great value, like the ones sold in the shop in the photo. They could be interesting or attractive little things, and people might have collections of them.

Here’s how Oscar Wilde used the word:
“The mind of the thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. It is like a bric-à-brac shop, all monsters and dust, with everything priced above its proper value.”

Oh, and it’s uncountable, so don’t use it in the plural (a shop that sells antiques and bric-a-brac). And, oh, don’t forget the final ‘c’, because then it would seem like a collection of lingerie.

If you want to talk about various little things of different types, you can also call them odds and ends, bits and pieces, this and that.