AUE home


More articles still


The hill hill hill hill

Cumbria's Torpenhow hill is listed in The Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names as: "the ridge of a hill with a rocky peak", and gives the following etymology: tor (OE) + penn (Celtic) + ho'h (OE). All of these words can be traced to a root word having to do with a hill. The story goes that as each wave of invaders discovered the hill, they took the existing name and appended their word for "hill" on to it.

The "penn" root, however, is difficult because it also appears in place-names describing an enclosure for animals (i.e., a "pen"). There are other place-names where "penn" is clearly linked to a hill, such as Penrith and Pensax.

Contributor Matti adds, "...a second possibility for Tor-, namely a corruption of Dorp or Thorpe for 'village'. This seems more likely to me, as Tor doesn't seem to be used in that region to denote a hill. One thing everyone agrees on is the pronunciation, Trepenna..."

Other contenders for "hill" repetitions are Venlaw Hill in Scotland and Creechbarrow Hill in Hants. There is also the Alice Holt Hurst Wood in Surrey (wood wood wood).


British literary figures that abducted children

 "...And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms, my beamish boy!..."

Dewer, the huntsman of Devon; The 'boo-baggers'; Father Flog; The bogeyman; The bugbear; The bull-begger; The Lammikin (Scottish); The Hobyahs (lit, craddle snatchers, Scottish); The Fey, i.e., changling myth; Mr. Punch; The Pied Piper (reworked by Robt Browning in 1842); The early Sandman; The Jabberwock; and Fagin (although a borderline case).

Possibly the Man in the Moon (unconfirmed); Various cannibal giants depicted in Victorian Fairy Paintings don't appear in literature; Puck just frightened women; and The Lord of the Flies did not abduct in the same sense as the others.


American belts

The Borscht Belt (upstate New York), the Bible Belt (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas), the Corn Belt (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska), the Sun Belt (15 states in all), and the Rust Belt (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan).



This expression, unfathomably entrenched in the vocabulary of British schoolchildren, was first documented in the late 19th century as a plea for immediate truce during a children’s game. Its etymology is thought to derive from “fain”, which ultimately leads to a Latin root meaning “to ward off, avert, or protect”.


"Bite the bullet"

We are unable to find a period citation showing this expression in the context of frontier, or any other type of medicine. Indeed, anyone biting a bullet in a particularly painful situation would place himself in jeopardy of inhaling something as small as a bullet. Wooden spoons and rolls of cloth, however, do appear in the literature for situations where anesthesia was not available.

In all events, the antiseptic techniques advocated by Baron Joseph Lister (as in "Listerine") were all but universally adopted by war time physicians by the middle of the 19th century.

The most plausible theory on the origin of "bite the bullet" is suggested by the cartridge for the early carbine rifles. The tops of these cartridges were bitten off so that the spark could reach the powder. This theory also maintains the necessary grounding between "bite the bullet" and bracing oneself for an unpleasant task.





AUE home