Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2015

Word of the Month: Penthouse

Some Modern English words have a linguistic history that is straightforward to follow: formally, they have a transparent etymology, and semantically, they have a sense that has more or less remained the same throughout the centuries. Many words, though, take unexpected turns: some revert to very different spellings, twist their forms, and/or acquire new connotations or even meanings. The result is that for such words the root, or etymon, may turn up in quite unexpected places. One clear example of the latter – of a word ‘hiding’ its etymological and semantic origin – turned up during the current revision of AND of words beginning with P-: penthouse . The Modern English word penthouse is defined in the OED (third edition, updated in 2005) as ‘a flat, apartment, suite of rooms, etc., occupying the top floor or floors of a tall building’, with the addition that the word usually has ‘connotations of wealth, status, etc., typically suggesting a luxuriously appointed apartment offering