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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, June 10, 2011

Why isn't life a bowlful of cherrieses?

What a treat it is to see Ontario cherries come into season. “Cherry” comes from a Latin word, ceresea, which became the French word cerise (in Northern French dialect cherise). Why is there an s on the end in French but not in English? In fact, there used to be an s in English as well. You would have one cherise and many cherises (because who can stop at just one?). But this was too much for English-speakers, for whom an s ending suggested a plural, so they dropped the s in the singular and made it “cherry”.
For the story of another word that underwent a similar evolution, click here to read about "skate".

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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.