Category Archives: Greek

Toxic Sagittarius


Considering the time of year, I thought it appropriate to dedicate a post to my fellow Sagittarians.  The ninth sign of the zodiac is represented by the archer.  Sagitta is Latin for arrow – an appropriate name for a constellation resembling an archer. Somehow, the word toxic fits into all this. Toxic is from the Greek word toxikos meaning pertaining to archery.  How did toxic come to mean what it means today if its origin pertains to archery?   Because hunters would dip their arrows in poison before going out on the attack.  Poisonous arrows were very toxic.

[Source: Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth
Photo credit:


Hoi Polloi – hoity toity, low-class, the many?

This is an interesting term, because it is occasionally used to express opposite ideas. Greek for ‘the many’, in English it used as a term for ‘the masses’ or ‘ordinary’ people (often derogatory). However, it is also occasionally used to mean the ‘upper-crust’ – the exact opposite of its Greek meaning. How did that happen? I’m interested in finding similar phrases that are used in opposite contexts. If you have any to share, please post them here!


(Hoi Polloi poster from