The Vocabularist: How did cappuccino get its name?

  • 1 September 2015
Coffee buttons

The world has not abandoned cappuccino for flat white just yet - but it might be best to be on the safe side and tell some of the history of this familiar but exotic word, writes Trevor Timpson.

Cappuccio is an Italian word for hood. In Dante's Inferno those condemned as hypocrites must trail about endlessly in leaden robes, with low hoods - "cappucci bassi" - over their eyes.

The Cappuccini or Capuchin friars began in the 16th Century as a reform movement among the Franciscans, calling for a return to the hard, simple life of their founder.

Image caption The mystic Padre Pio (now St Pio of Pietrelcina), who died in 1968, is among the most famous Capuchin friars.

Roughly dressed and bearded, they got their name from children who shouted "scappuccini!" after them in the streets, a historian of the order wrote. Literally that means WITHOUT hoods, though it had come to mean simply "hermits". The reformers were first officially named Cappuccini in 1535. They do have hoods.

Today there are some 11,000 Capuchins worldwide. Their brown tunics are probably the reason why their name was given to Capuchin monkeys, some of which have brown coats, and to cups of brown (as opposed to black) coffee, lightened by the use of milk, cream or even egg.

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10 things we didn't know last week

  • 28 August 2015

1. It is possible to have orgasms in your left foot.

Find out more (New York Times)

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Weekend Edition: The week's best reads

  • 28 August 2015
New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina 2005

A collection of some of the best features from the BBC News website this week, with an injection of your comments.

"A great piece of journalism on both sides of the pond," commented Martin Seddon. As Hurricane Katrina slammed the city of New Orleans in 2005, reporters and producers at WWL radio kept their station on air. In the latest of our immersive long-form stories told using pictures, video and text, we explore how they fought to keep their listeners informed and alive despite wind, rain and floods.

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Caption Challenge: Who's there?

  • 28 August 2015
Google installation in Kings Cross

Winning entries in the Caption Challenge.

The competition is now closed.

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The Vocabularist: The red-hot history of the word 'brand'

  • 25 August 2015
Branding Iron

Brand has developed steadily from its fiery Anglo-Saxon roots into two almost contradictory meanings - sometimes denoting identity and reputation, and sometimes a mark of shame, writes Trevor Timpson.

Recent headlines said the Labour leadership contest had been "branded a shambles" while hopes were expressed that Jeremy Corbyn could "detoxify the Labour brand" in Scotland.

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10 things we didn't know last week

  • 21 August 2015

1. You can't watch Straight Outta Compton in Compton because it doesn't have any cinemas.

Find out more (Mashable)

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Weekend Edition: The week's best reads

  • 21 August 2015
Tail section of a Delta L-1011 jetliner remains near the runway at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Aug. 3, 1985

A collection of some of the best features from the BBC News website this week, with an injection of your comments.

"Interesting read," posted Rich Peggram. Four crashes in less than a month make August 1985 the most deadly month for passengers and crew on commercial airlines. A total of 720 people lost their lives in accidents caused in completely different ways. "It would be very difficult for people now to understand what it felt like," says one expert. "Crashes were regular things."

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Go Figure: The week in numbers

  • 21 August 2015

Look back at the week in numbers with our Go Figure images, which are posted daily on social media.

Monday: What was in Osama Bin Laden's tape collection?

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Caption Challenge: Column gossip

  • 20 August 2015
Pre-opening tour of Grimm World in Kassel, Germany

Winning entries in the Caption Challenge.

The competition is now closed.

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The Vocabularist: Super, hyper, over or uber?

  • 18 August 2015
Superman

When Google founder Larry Page praised projects which "other people think are crazy but we are super excited about." he was using a word which the English language has taken to its heart, writes Trevor Timpson.

From "super-dainty Kate" in the Taming of the Shrew to Superfast Broadband, from Sam Weller's "wery best extra-super behaviour" in The Pickwick Papers to superheroes, the Latin word meaning over or beyond has conferred appreciation or affection on a whole range of things for centuries.

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