Enough of moans about travel and weather. Let’s get back to real life. I wondered, the other day, when people started referring to Edinburgh as Auld Reekie, but haven’t done anything about finding out. I suspect it may be as long ago as the fourteenth century.
The phrase just desserts has always struck me as peculiar, so I did get around to looking that up, and here’s what I found: the expression has nothing to do with the sweet course at dinner. It comes from the French for ‘deserve’, so take note everyone. Just deserts is the correct form.
Having forgotten all my school grammar lessons, I have often been frustrated by not being able to remember what a gerund is, so I looked that up, too. It’s a verb made to function as a noun, as in ‘cooking is my favourite hobby.’ It isn’t, but that’s by the way.
American friends use swipe in their writing where I would use wipe. To me, swipe conveys a rash, large, hurried action. No well bred young lady would ever swipe anything, but would dab, brush, stroke, pat, or flick a fallen leaf from her skirt. It also has the more vulgar meaning of striking a blow in a fight or struggle, and worse still, taking something that is not yours by right; in other words, stealing.
Aren’t words fun?