What's in a Word | All Blogs

The $64 Question

By Debra Dobbins

The $64 Question: What’s in a word?

I know, I know: consonants, vowels and syllables, but there can be much more. For starters, we can appreciate its various definitions and understand the meaning of each of its parts.

What’s a word’s history?

An English word often hints at the lives of ancient, faraway people. Why? English is actually a hodgepodge of languages, resulting mainly from centuries-old invasions of the British Isles and the mingling of highly diverse cultures in North America.

What’s an example?

Consider, if you will, the final word of the “flag” (newspaper jargon for name) of our fair city’s daily broadsheet. Sentinel comes from a Latin word meaning to feel or sense. It now means someone who guards a group (by using his or her senses, of course). Sentinel is an apt word for a newspaper dedicated to guarding citizens’ First Amendment rights.

What’s my line?

A retired literacy teacher, I’m the Sentinel’s Newspapers in Education coordinator. I wallow in linguistic bliss here, because I get to interact with professionals who love words, too. That love shows up in their clever headlines, concise articles, witty columns and effective ads. With any luck, that love will also show up in my small corner of the blogosphere.

What’s my hope?

As I write about words found in The Daily Sentinel/GJSentinel.com, I hope that our mother tongue will intrigue you, too. If you’re intrigued enough to comment, I’d be ever so chuffed. Yes, that’s a hint to expect a word or two soon on the vagaries of British-English….

   The Daily Sentinel has “flown its flag” since 1893.


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