Words

and how to use them

Love words? Want to find out more about copywriting and improve your writing skills? You’re in the right place. The etymology aficionados among you can explore the surprising origins of some everyday words. Meanwhile, the copywriting category has practical advice to help you use those words to engage and persuade your reader. And you’ll find plenty of tips and tricks drawn from my career as a professional copywriter to help you on your way.

The word laconic means concise or abrupt. It’s used to describe the manner or speech of someone who says a lot while using only a few words. It’s also often used to specify a sense of humour that’s particularly dry and understated. The word has been around since the 1580s and...

When you write using plain English, you write with your reader in mind in a way that’s clear and concise. The seven principles of plain English underpin all my writing. The clarity that results from following these principles has been particularly vital since I started writing for an international audience. The...

When ordering your morning brew from your favourite barista, you're probably more concerned with getting a caffeine fix than with the etymology of your chosen cuppa. But there are some interesting stories behind our most popular coffees that are worth exploring. Incidentally, there's some uncertainty about the origin of the word...

Merchants in the Holy Land in the 13th Century would have been familiar with al-zahr. They were the dice used in a number of high-risk gambling games that were popular in the region’s medinas. The risk came from the large element of chance inherent in the games and also from...

Make no mistake, writing an annual report can be stressful and long-winded. First there are the ever-changing legal requirements of charity reporting. Then there's the need to please many stakeholders, including auditors, trustees and senior managers. Conflicting demands from departments with different priorities add extra complexity. Is it possible to co-ordinate...

Anyone who has felt the choking effects of anxiety will find a certain poetic justice in the origin of the two words most frequently used to describe the emotion. The Old English word wyrgan, which means “to strangle”, is the origin of the word worry. The original wyrgan had morphed into...

Take a look at your burly biceps. If you don’t have any burly biceps of your own, look at a friend’s. Do those rippling muscles look like a handful of little mice moving around under the skin? The Romans thought so. In Latin, the word muscle literally means “little mouse”....

Writing and marketing are two disciplines with languages all of their own. Where the two overlap things can get bewildering. Are you unsure of the difference between copywriting and copyright, or copy editing and editing? You're not alone. This article is for you. Read on for a better grasp of...

Salt was a precious commodity in Ancient Rome. So much so that it was used as currency to pay for goods and services. This is where the word salary comes from, sal being the Latin word for salt. Roman soldiers were the first people to receive something called a salary, which...

This French word, adopted into the English language in the early 20th century, has a surprising link to footwear. At the beginning of our story, we find the Persian word ciabat. This influential word for shoe inspired the Spanish word zapata, the Italian ciabatta, the Arabic sabbat and the French word...