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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, February 10, 2012

Passion fruit or passion killers?

If you are planning on serving your sweetheart passion fruit this coming Valentine's Day as being particularly appropriate, you might want to think again. When the word “passion” first came into English from a Latin word meaning “suffering”, it was used in particular for the sufferings of Jesus (as it indeed still is). Only later did the sense of “affliction” morph into “extreme love”, which can, alas, be an affliction. But the original meaning survives in the passion fruit. It is the fruit of the passion flower, which was called that because its parts, people thought, recalled Christ's crucifixion: the blossoms look like the crown of thorns, the styles like nails, and the leaves and tendrils like scourges.

Kind of cuts your appetite, doesn't it? Chocolate is safer! (And for more on that, visit this post.)

1 comment:

  1. How utterly appropriate! The number of people I have encountered who serve up that "mess" of what looks like a frog's C-section NOW know why the name is not congruous with the edibility of the fruit.....thank you WORD-LADY Michael G. Blackmore


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.