Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Trivia 1

Hello all,

This blog is a compendium of linguistic trickery. I'm a lover of puns, etymology, constrained writing, and wordplay, and I'm using this as an outlet. I also love trivia and especially trivia questions, so both will appear frequently here. In fact, I plan to have at least one major trivia question each week (hence the title of this post.) Often these will require some linguistic sleuthing. Post your answer in the comments - correct answers will at the very least receive some praise or recognition.

For a while now, I've been collecting what I call "etymological redundancies": phrases whose constituent parts share a meaning somewhere along their etymological paths. For example, the Milky Way Galaxy is an etymological redundancy because galaxy comes from the Greek gala, "milk." Another favorite of mine is prayer beads - bead derives from the Old English gebed, "prayer." (Bead shifted in meaning because of phrases like count one's beads.) Or the White Album, album originally being a "white tablet."

Your first trivia question is this: Name a very common etymological redundancy often used in Mediterranean cooking.

Some additional hints:

1. The phrase is two words, and they both begin with the same letter.
2. The words derive their meaning from the same Greek word, which came to English through Latin and then Old French.
3. This product has had a huge economic effect on Mediterranean civilization for at least a few thousand years.


  1. Congratulations to Natalie Kuffel and Ben Hollander, who came up with the correct answer (olive oil) at about the same time.

  2. Olive oil:
    Oil from the greek elaion, meaning olive oil.

  3. You should post another one buddy!