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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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Monday, February 14, 2011

Perfect Valentine's gift: theobromine

Will you be offering a heart-shaped box of theobromines to your Valentine on Monday? Frightfully scientific though this sounds, you may well do so, for theobromine is the active ingredient in chocolate. When the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus was classifying the plant system in the 1700s, he had to think up a name for the genus of the cacao tree. Being a chocolate lover, he called it Theobroma, from the Greek theo (god) and broma (food): the food of the gods.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I wonder why the 3rd chemical element of the 7th principal group of the Periodic Table would have a name similar to "broma". And how that same word would mean "joke" in Spanish.



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.