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.

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...

The early origins of the word mask are aptly shrouded in uncertainty. We know that the English word is derived from the French masque, “covering to hide or guard the face”. And that this derives from the Medieval Latin masca, which has the broader meaning of a mask, spectre or...

The Greek god Pan was a merry and mischievous fellow, who could often be found in a forest glade making music, drinking wine and indulging in many and varied hedonistic frolics. As with most Greek gods though, jolly old Pan had a darker side. The half-man, half-goat sprite had the...

This evocative word is most often found in the phrase halcyon days, where it conjures up nostalgic images of endless childhood summers and carefree golden-hued jaunts. It’s surprising then, that the original halcyon days were a winter affair; and there’s plenty more of interest behind this gentle, sun-drenched little word. Greek legend...

The Hebrew word golem was used in medieval literature to mean an amorphous, unformed material. It also appears in Psalms with this meaning. In Jewish folklore, golems are mythical beings, created by people from clay, and magically animated so that they can walk, talk and serve their master (or not)....