Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4
#1521 - 04/24/00 12:00 PM Etymologies  
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 134
Wordsmith Offline
Wordsmith  Offline


member

Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 134
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.


#1522 - 04/24/00 03:31 PM Re: Etymologies  
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 19
patatty Offline
stranger
patatty  Offline
stranger

Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 19
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?


#1523 - 04/24/00 07:50 PM Re: Etymologies  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 81
Philip Davis Offline
journeyman
Philip Davis  Offline
journeyman

Joined: Apr 2000
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)


#1524 - 05/01/00 06:06 AM Re: Etymologies  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 5
Bear Offline
stranger
Bear  Offline
stranger

Joined: Apr 2000
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.



#1525 - 05/01/00 03:02 PM Re: Etymologies  
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 19
patatty Offline
stranger
patatty  Offline
stranger

Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 19
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.)


#1526 - 05/01/00 05:39 PM Re: Etymologies  
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 2
JColter Offline
stranger
JColter  Offline
stranger

Joined: May 2000
Posts: 2
Ontario Canada
Would perhaps the origin of pediatrics then be because the little ones are always under foot?


#1527 - 05/01/00 11:43 PM Re: Etymologies  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 81
Philip Davis Offline
journeyman
Philip Davis  Offline
journeyman

Joined: Apr 2000
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)


#1528 - 05/02/00 04:35 AM Re: Etymologies  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 5
Bear Offline
stranger
Bear  Offline
stranger

Joined: Apr 2000
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?"



#1529 - 05/02/00 11:32 AM Re: Etymologies  
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 1,027
wsieber Offline
old hand
wsieber  Offline
old hand

Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 1,027
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".


#1530 - 05/02/00 06:34 PM Re: Etymologies  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 5
Bear Offline
stranger
Bear  Offline
stranger

Joined: Apr 2000
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.)]"



Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4

Moderated by  Jackie 

Forum Statistics
Forums16
Topics13,878
Posts223,862
Members9,013
Most Online3,341
Dec 9th, 2011
Newest Members
Ahmed, KathrynH, Waqar_Ali, brecht, Akintola
9013 Registered Users
Who's Online Now
0 registered members (), 28 guests, and 2 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters(30 Days)
Top Posters(All Time)
wwh 13,858
Faldage 13,803
Jackie 11,613
tsuwm 10,538
LukeJavan8 8,961
AnnaStrophic 6,511
Wordwind 6,296
of troy 5,400
Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 1994-2017 Wordsmith

Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.6.0
Page Time: 0.013s Queries: 14 (0.003s) Memory: 2.7259 MB (Peak: 2.8617 MB) Zlib disabled. Server Time: 2017-08-20 11:52:48 UTC