General English


  • Device which moves by means of the force generated under Newton’s Third Law of Motion, which states that actions – pushing material out of the rear of a rocket – generate equal and opposite reactions – the rocket moves forward. Rockets normally travel by burning fuel to produce hot gasses, which are ejected from the rocket engine, but there are also types which eject cool gas or even streams of electrons.


  • verb to rise fast


  • A slightly bitter, peppery-flavoured plant, Eruca vesicaria, which grows wild in cold climates and is cultivated in Italy and Cyprus. The dandelion-shaped leaves are used in salads.


  • noun a projectile which contains its own propellant


Origin & History of “rocket”

English has two words rocket. The older, and now less familiar, is the name of a plant of the cabbage family whose leaves are used in salads. It was inspired by the plant’s downy stems, for it goes back ultimately to Latin ērūca, which originally meant ‘hairy caterpillar’. this may have been related to ērīcius ‘hedgehog’, from which English gets caprice and urchin. It passed into Italian as ruca, whose diminutive form ruchetta developed a variant rochetta – whence French roquette and finally English rocket (16th c.). Rocket ‘projectile’ (17th c.) is ultimately an allusion to the shape of such objects. It comes via Old French roquette from Italian rocchetto, a diminutive form of rocca ‘spool’ – hence the application to the ‘cylindrical’ rocket. Rocca itself represents a borrowing from a prehistoric Germanic *rukkon, which also lies behind English ratchet.