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.

Cobalt is a dangerous element. Not in itself, but because of its sneaky habit of combining with arsenic and releasing a deadly gas when heated. 17th century miners were well aware of the hazards of cobalt. They would routinely heat rock in order to make the precious underground substances they were...

Human beings have told stories for millennia. Back when our ancestors were living in caves and hunting woolly mammoths, they told each other stories. Why was that? Because stories make information memorable. If I tell you a dramatic story about how I nearly got eaten by a sabre toothed tiger by...

Partial to a Painkiller? Keen on a Cosmopolitan? Or maybe something more Dark 'n' Stormy floats your boat? Whatever your preference, there's bound to be something to wet your wordy whistle in the etymological origins behind five of the world's most popular cocktails. BELLINI This peachy brew originated in Venice sometimes...

What could be more wholesome and innocuous than an avocado? Beloved of Instagrammers and health food aficionados alike, this versatile fruit has seen its global popularity soar in recent years. But you might be surprised to find out that the origins behind the name of this knobbly green beauty are...

Your website text, online bios, social media posts and emails define you. They are what make people notice you, connect with you and buy from you… or not. If you want to write clear, persuasive copy but struggle to communicate your message plainly, these three super-tips are for you. I've picked...

Colour has played an important part in humankind’s history. Our ancestors painted the walls of their caves with coloured pigments made from ground up soil, plants and animals. Thousands of years later, paints and dyes were big business as inventors competed to produce valuable new commercial dyes. The sources of...

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...