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Oct 25, 2021
This week’s theme
Words coined after fairy tales and folktales

This week’s words
breadcrumb
Tom Thumb
Domdaniel
Chicken Licken
open sesame

breadcrumb
Hansel & Gretel leaving breadcrumbs
Image: Deutsche Bundespost / Wikimedia

breadcrumb
A breadcrumb trail on a website

Previous week’s theme
Eponyms
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Fairy tales and folktales, we grew up listening to them. They were mere amusements, or not. Latest research has quantified the benefits of listening to stories.

Stories we grow up hearing take root in our collective consciousness. Many of the characters, places, concepts, and utterances have become part of the language. This week we’ll look at five of them.

breadcrumb

PRONUNCIATION:
(BRED-cruhm)

MEANING:
noun:
1. A small fragment of bread.
2. One in a series of markers placed as a navigational aid.
3. One of several hints or clues leading to a person, place, etc.

ETYMOLOGY:
From bread, from Old English bread + crumb, from Old English cruma. Earliest documented use: 1519.

NOTES:
In the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, their parents drop the two siblings off in the forest because they are not able to feed them (if only there had been a strong social safety net). The smart kids drop breadcrumbs along the way so they can trace their steps back and find their way home.
In computing, website design, etc., breadcrumbs help users as a navigation aid and tell them where they are in a program, website, etc.

USAGE:
“He leads you around with a trail of almost imperceptible breadcrumbs into worlds you never knew existed.”
Kit de Waal; John le Carré Remembered by Writers and Friends; The Guardian (London, UK); Dec 15, 2020.

See more usage examples of breadcrumb in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Those who compare the age in which their lot has fallen with a golden age which exists only in imagination, may talk of degeneracy and decay; but no man who is correctly informed as to the past, will be disposed to take a morose or desponding view of the present. -Thomas Babington Macaulay, author and statesman (25 Oct 1800-1859)

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