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This blog is about the fascinating, fun, and challenging things about the English language. I hope to entertain you and to help you with problems or just questions you might have with spelling and usage. I go beyond just stating what is right and what is wrong, and provide some history or some tips to help you remember. Is something puzzling you? Feel free to email me at wordlady.barber@gmail.com.
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Friday, October 22, 2010

Vote for Mr. Big(ger)

The race is down to the wire for candidates for mayor in the Ontario municipal elections. The word is derived from the Latin word for “bigger”: maior. (“Big” was magnus and “biggest” was maximus – all in all, a pretty irregular adjective!) This same word has also given us the word “major”. In ancient Rome, people standing for office wore a white toga (try not to think of how the current batch would look). The Latin word for “white” was candidus, and candidatus meant “dressed in white”; this is why we call them candidates.

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About Me

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.