Why is Scotland Yard in London?
Plus: What does 'muggle' really mean? And other slurpworthy tidbits.
General view of the sign for the New Scotland Yard building in Victoria on January 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images / August 29, 2012)
The parliamentary hearings on the phone hacking scandal are looking, in part, at the allegedly cozy relationship between the police and the now-defunct News of the World tabloid. Sir Paul Stephenson, Scotland Yard chief, resigned amid the allegations.
"Scotland Yard in harsh spotlight at hacking hearings," announced the New York Times on Tuesday. The same day, dictionary.com posed the question: "Scotland Yard? But it's in London."
The name, says the dictionary site, stems from the original police headquarters, located on a small street called Great Scotland Yard. We set off to the Oxford English Dictionary for more.
"From their foundation in 1829 until 1890 the Metropolitan Police headquarters were situated in a former private house at 4 Whitehall Place, with a rear entrance in Great Scotland Yard, which became the police station for the 1st Company," according to the OED. "In 1890 the headquarters moved to purpose-built new premises on the Victoria Embankment, Westminster, named New Scotland Yard. In 1967 they moved again to 10 Broadway, Westminster, retaining this name."
Speaking of British stuff, Wordnik founder Erin McKean has a delightful blog entry celebrating Harry Potter words in honor of the final movie opening. If you're a Potter fan, check it out at blog.wordnik.com. If you're not, a few highlights:
• A "muggle," a person who can't do magic in Potter world, has referred at one point or another to a contest between drinkers to decide who can drink the most, a marijuana cigarette and hot chocolate.
• A dumbledore is another name for a bumblebee.
• Hagrid (as in Rubeus Hagrid, gamekeeper) is the past participle of hagride, which means "to harass or torment by dread or nightmares" and Mundungus (as in Mundungus Fletcher, wizard) is "poor-quality tobacco with a foul, rancid, or putrid smell."
Finally, we close today with thoughts from two of the numerous folks who wrote us to applaud author Arthur Plotnik's ("Better Than Great: A Plenitudinous Compendium of Wallopingly Fresh Superlatives") mission to rid the English-speaking world of the word "awesome."
"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My granddaughter knows the word awesome is banned in my presence unless we are in church or in front of the Grand Canyon," writes Sara Spitz. "When I hear someone use awesome to describe a sandwich, I immediately discount his/her intelligence. The next words to be tackled are amazing and absolutely."
"It may not happen in my lifetime, but I'm glad someone is trying," writes Jeriann Walsh. "Thanks to Mr. Plotnik and to you at the Trib, I'm ready to incorporate transcendent and slurpworthy into my everyday vocabulary."