January 6, 2006


The etymology game. (Via Metafilter.) Ten multiple choice questions per game. Try to get a good score, but also learn some interesting info. Like, did you know the cheer "ole" comes from "Allah" and that "admiral" is based on "emir"?

Play more than once, because you'll probably improve your skills at figuring out the right answer. I think I got about 7 of the first 10, but then I got all 10 right the second time, not because I happened to know the answers, but because I got better at thinking about why one answer made more sense than another. (That's the classic multiple choice skill -- and you know how useful that is in life.)


Ross said...

Nine out of 10, baby!

But, oddly, the quiz doesn't tell you which you got right and wrong, which will leave me wondering about my error all day.

Ann Althouse said...

Ross: Look at the top of the page as you go to the next question. It gives the answers.

Steven said...

Sigh. They've got "The original meaning of the phrase worth his salt is" wrong.

Salt wasn't especially valuable in the Roman Empire; even the ancients knew the trick of filling a vessel with seawater and letting the water evaporate, and the Roman Empire was centered on the Mediterranean.

However, salt was needed in especially large quantities for soldiers (soliering is sweaty work, and sweat gets rid of salt), soldiers did not have enough free time to gather it themselves when on campaign, and it varied in price significantly from location to location depending on distance from the sea. Accordingly, soldiers got a stipend, in addition to their regualr pay, to cover their salt purchases.

A soldier "worth his salt" was accordingly one who was "merely" worth having in the unit, instead of one considered a drain on it. Of course, with typical grunt-soldier cynicism, grumbling, and understatement, actually saying that someone was worth having in the unit was significant praise.

Pastor_Jeff said...

9 of 10! But I got worse the more I played - 7 of 10 second time. I'm stopping there before I get any stupider.

Don't forget the Online Etymology Dictionary - a cool resource.

verification: mxgbdysp. Origin, anyone?