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#1521 - 04/24/00 08:00 AM Etymologies
Wordsmith Offline


member

Registered: 03/12/00
Posts: 123
What would a crane's foot have to do with a genealogical chart (unless the
chart is about a crane's lineage, that is)? Many hundred years ago someone
figured that the lines of succession on an ancestral map bore a strong
resemblance with that bird's foot, and the rest, as they say, is history.
So even though you might think this week's words appear pedestrian, pay
special attention to the etymologies. You'll discover that these words have
pedigrees that are anything but ordinary.


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#1522 - 04/24/00 11:31 AM Re: Etymologies
patatty Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/20/00
Posts: 19
Loc: Orange County Calif.
The imagery of the crane's foot reminded me of another queer etymology, perhaps apocryphal, anchored on Napoleon's favorite horse, Nicole.
Legend has it that the conqueror was offered sustenance by a villager in the form of a coarse, dark bread which the horse seemed to relish. When Bonaparte uttered his approval that the bread was good for Nicole (bon pour Nicole), the neologism "pumpernickel" achieved its pedigree.
Truth or fiction?


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#1523 - 04/24/00 03:50 PM Re: Etymologies
Philip Davis Offline
journeyman

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 81
Medicine is full of words of this type. One of my favourite is fibrillation, an irregular irratic movement of the heart muscle. This comes from the observation that a heart in fibrillation looks like a bag of wriggling worms. I believe fibril is latin for worm (although late latin seems to use it for fibre)


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#1524 - 05/01/00 02:06 AM Re: Etymologies
Bear Offline
stranger

Registered: 04/29/00
Posts: 5
Re origin of "pumpernickel" involving Napoleon's horse:

Random House and American Heritage give about the same etymology. This is RH:

[1750-60; < G Pumpernickel orig., an opprobrious name for anyone considered disagreeable = pumper (n) to break wind + Nickel hypocoristic form of Nikolaus Nicholas (cf. NICKEL); presumably applied to the bread from its effect on the digestive system]

To clear up the "nickel" component, AH gives "demon" and "rascal" as senses of the German "nickel".

Also note that RH dates "pumpernickel" a bit before Napoleon's birth.



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#1525 - 05/01/00 11:02 AM Re: Etymologies
patatty Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/20/00
Posts: 19
Loc: Orange County Calif.
Bear -
Thank you for the "break wind" etymology. While it may be valid, the association with the bread's effects is a bit of a stretch. If I ever market a product to compete with Heinz baked beans, I'll consider calling it Pumpernickel.
(Anyhow, Good for the Horse is more fun.)


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#1526 - 05/01/00 01:39 PM Re: Etymologies
JColter Offline
stranger

Registered: 05/01/00
Posts: 2
Loc: Ontario Canada
Would perhaps the origin of pediatrics then be because the little ones are always under foot?


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#1527 - 05/01/00 07:43 PM Re: Etymologies
Philip Davis Offline
journeyman

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 81
This just doesn't work in UK english where paediatrics is clearly from a different root than that in pedestrian. One of those times when UK spelling has an advantage of the generally superior US spellings. (although I note pedagogue is not spelt paedagogue as it should be if things were consistent)


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#1528 - 05/02/00 12:35 AM Re: Etymologies
Bear Offline
stranger

Registered: 04/29/00
Posts: 5

Re (Anyhow, Good for the Horse is more fun.)

You asked "Truth or fiction?", regarding the horse origin.

I didn't know you meant, "Which is more fun?"



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#1529 - 05/02/00 07:32 AM Re: Etymologies
wsieber Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 1026
Loc: Switzerland
Fun or true, maybe both etymologies are off the beam, if the site
http://www.r-net.de/rheine/stadt/geschichte/brand/sage2.htm
is to be believed, Pumpernickel stems from the family name of the "serendipitous" inventor of this bread...
By the way, if the wind-breaking line had any merit, it would rather spell "Puppernickel".


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#1530 - 05/02/00 02:34 PM Re: Etymologies
Bear Offline
stranger

Registered: 04/29/00
Posts: 5

That's the first mention I've seen of it being a baker's name.

Ciardi, on the horse and fart etymologies, supports both American Heritage and Random House, already cited:

"[Ger. /pumpern/, to fart; /Nickel/, devil (Old Nick). Because this bread is coarse (sometimes wonderfully so) but was said to be so hard to digest that it would make the devil fart. (The story that Napoleon, retreating from Moscow on his horse Nichol, fed it this bread, calling it /pommes pour Nichol/, applies for Nicholas, but is not an etymology but a strained joke.)]"



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