How the English Language Evolved
A simplified version of how our American English developed and evolved. "It's complicated."
The English language is complicated and fascinating and one could spend a lifetime studying how it all came about and evolved.
Here’s a greatly simplified version: Around 450 AD three Germanic tribes, the Saxons, the Angles, and the Jutes, crossed the North Sea from what are now Denmark and Northern Germany into Britain, and pushed the Celtic speakers north and west into what are now Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.
The Angles came from Englaland, and their language was Englisc. That’s where the words England and English came from. The resulting language was called “Old English” and was spoken until about 1100 AD.
William the Conqueror invaded and conquered England in 1066, bringing with him a kind of French that was then spoken only by the upper class. The lower classes continued to speak English. Eventually the two merged and modern English became the common language (1800 to present).
When North America was colonized, a distinct American variety of English came into being. Spanish, French, and West African languages added flair and pizzazz to the American English, along with Native American, German and Yiddish words. Then of course there are Latin roots and a smattering of Dutch and Greek; it’s a wonderful hodgepodge and it’s still evolving.
100 of my favorite words are offered for you readers and writers out there, along with definitions I selected from among many and illustrations that I created.
Here’s the list of 100 of my favorite words, which I chose because I like the sound of them, or the images they evoke, or just because of the way they make me feel.
Abundance – a plentiful amount
Aquamarine – a transparent blue-green gemstone
Aubergine – a dark purple color
Babushka - a woman's head scarf, folded and tied under the chin
Bask – to lie in or relax in
Bathe - to suffuse with
Bejeweled – ornamented with
Bevy – a group of birds
Bismallah – prayer of thankfulness and awe
Bizarre – odd; extravagant
Blossoming – developing
Boggle (as in mind-boggling) - shocking
Bonanza – a large amount of something valuable
Boogaloo – Cuban-style rhythm
Bossa nova – a type of music from Brazil
Brilliant - marked by unusual and impressive intellectual acuteness
Burgeoning – expanding rapidly
Candelabra – a set of candlesticks
Caribbean – comprised of the Caribbean Sea and many islands
Celestial – relating to heaven
Contemporaneous – happening during the same period of time
Copacetic - fine
Coursed – moved swiftly
Damsel – a maiden
Deep – vast, immeasurable
Delicious - delightful
Dilettante - dabbler
Divine – supremely good or beautiful
Doozie - something extraordinary or bizarre
Eclectic – employing individual elements from a variety of styles
Effervescent – showing high spirits
Enigma – something mysterious
Epiphany -a sudden intuitive realization
Escapade – a carefree romp
Essence – the most important ingredient
Ethereal – celestial; almost as light as air
Eucalyptus – a tree native to Australia having aromatic leaves
Euphoria – a state of happiness and well-being
Extraordinary - exceptional; remarkable
Fabulous – astounding; almost unbelievable
Fascinating – enchanting; alluring
Fiddle faddle – nonsense!
Flabbergasted – overcome with astonishment
Flamboyant – ostentatious, showy display
Flounce – move in an exaggerated or bouncy manner
Frolic – romp merrily
Funky – music relating to blues, jazz, and soul; original
Gallivant – roam about in search of pleasure
Gossamer – soft, sheer, delicate, light
Graceful – beauty of movement
Groovy – wonderful; chic
Harmony – pleasing combination
Incandescent – emitting light
Indefatigable - tireless
Indigo – dark blue-violet
Insouciance – light-hearted, carefree attitude
Iridescent – a display of lustrous, rainbow-like colors
Lackadaisical – languid; carelessly lazy
Loquacious - talkative
Lovely – beautiful and delightful
Luminous - glowing
Luscious – sweet and appealing
Mélange – a disordered mixture
Mesmerizing - enthralling
Mojo – personal magnetism
Mosey – to saunter
Myriad – a vast number
Nuance – subtle shade of meaning
Panache – verve
Peace - harmonious relations
Picturesque – interesting in an unusual way
Pizzazz – flamboyant style
Plethora – super abundance
Posh – upper class, smart, and elegant
Precocious – ahead in development
Quintessential – perfect example
Rapture – transported by ecstasy
Rhapsody – a beautiful musical piece
Sashay – to walk in a showy way
Sassafras – a North American tree with aromatic bark, leaves, and branches
Sauté – fry briefly while tossing over high heat
Savoir-faire - knows how to respond appropriately to any situation.
Scintillating – animated and brilliant
Seductive - enticing
Segue – to move smoothly from one thing to another
Shocking – highly disturbing (I like saying it: Shocking!)
Smoldering – burning with little smoke and no flame
Soulful – expressing profound thoughts
Sparkle – give off flashes of light
Spiral – coiling around an axis
Subliminal – below the threshold of conscious awareness
Sultry – arousing desire
Symphony – harmony of sound or color
Tempestuous – tumultuous; stormy
Thicket – a dense growth
Titillating – exciting in a superficial manner
Translucent – transmitting a diffused light
Ukulele – a small Hawaiian guitar
Umbral – the darkest part of the shadow
Willowy – tall, slender and graceful
The definitions were selected from:
Here’s a link to more amazing words:
This list includes jewels such as amaranth – an imaginary flower that never fades;bliss – ecstasy, joy; eunoia – beautiful thinking; and frangipani – fragrant flower.
Read more about how English and American English differ:
Want help with how to pronounce a word? Go here:
What are some of your favorite words?
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