Why is a self-employed professional called a “freelancer”?
freelance came out of the period between the fourteenth
and sixteenth centuries, when mercenary knights with no particular
allegiance would take their lances into battle for the prince or state
that paid them the most money. They were referred to as freelancers
by authors in the nineteenth century and operated much like the
gunfighters in the American West. Now, a freelancer is anyone who
This is for you Vicente!
Why do Mexicans call Americans “gringos”?
Some say that during the Mexican-American war at the end of the nineteenth century, locals heard the invaders singing “Green Grow theLilacs” and simply picked up “gringo” from “green grow.” Others say that
because the American uniforms were green, the expression came from a
rallying cry: “Green, go!” But, in fact,
gringo is a Spanish word on its own
and is a slang insult for anyone who is fair-skinned and looks foreign.
Why do we say “goodbye” or “so long” when leaving someone?
goodbye is a derivative of the early English greeting “God be
with you,” or as it was said then, “God be with ye.” Over the years its
abbreviated written form and pronunciation became “goodbye.” As
for “so long,” it came to Britain with soldiers who had spent time in
Arabic-speaking countries, where the perfect expression of goodwill is
“salaam.” The unfamiliar word to the English men sounded like, and
then became, “so long.”
Why do we use
Xs as kisses at the bottom of a letter?
During medieval times, most people could neither read nor write, and
even those who could sign their names were required to follow it with
X, symbolizing the cross of St. Andrew, or the contract would be
invalid. Those who couldn’t write their names still had to end the contract
with the X to make it legal. To prove their intention, all were
required to kiss the cross, which through time is how the X became
associated with a lover’s kiss.