Gratitude is a fine thing. Though there is clearly some ugly history to the Thanksgiving holiday, this post focuses on the gratitude, The word thanks came to Old English through a heap of loosely related languages including Old Saxon, German, Old Norse, Danish, and Old Frisian. We can still see the relationship with the modern German word danke.
All these terms shared the simple meaning, to thank. What I find fascinating is that the Proto-Indo-European grandmother of all these gratitude-expressing words meant to think or to feel. This might suggest that one must be thinkful in order to be thankful. The flipside being that thinklessness causes thanklessness.
This post is intentionally brief, as I’m hoping you’ll take some time to indulge yourself in thinkfulness and thankfulness. If you are inspired to express gratitude about anything at all in the comments section, feel free.
Big thanks to this week’s sources: etymonline.com, the OED, & wordnik.com.
The headlines are filled with pundits' prognostications regarding somewhat distant upcoming elections. To counter the pontificating, here are some thoughts gleaned from folks wittier, wiser, & sometimes much snarkier than I.
“An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, & the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.”
“Though in paradise the lion will lay down with the lamb, in Paradise they will not have to submit their rival political views to general election.”
-Amelia E. Barr
“Money was the manure of politics.”
“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”
“I’ve seen public opinion shift like a wind & put out the very fire it lighted.”
“The vote is a power, a weapon of offense & defense, a prayer.”
-Carrie Chapman Catt
“Women are young at politics, but they are old at suffering; soon they will learn that through politics they can prevent some kinds of suffering.”
“A Platform is something a candidate stands for & the voters fall for.”
May the pontification not get you down. And if you have comments about the quotes, please share them.
Big thanks to this week’s sources: Jon Winokur’s The Portable Curmudgeon & Rosalie Maggio’s The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women.
Nothing inspires an emotional response like the news (whether fake or not). Join me in exploring the nuances of words that might pertain to your feelings.
On the not-so-positive side, you might be feeling:
appalled – terror or dismay at a shocking but apparently unalterable situation
daunted – disheartened or intimidated
dismayed – fear or discouragement at the prospect of some difficulty or problem which one doesn’t know how to resolve
horrified -- horror, loathing or irritation at that which shocks or offends one
enervated – a loss of force, vigor, or energy
debilitated – temporarily weakened
undermined or sapped – weakened or impaired by subtle, gradual, or stealthy means
Or perhaps you're feeling a call to action, a welling of energy. If so, you might be feeling:
exhilarated – an enlivened elevating of the spirits
stimulated – roused from inertia, inactivity or lethargy
invigorated – filled with vigor or energy in a physical sense
vitalized – invigorated or animated in a non-physical sense
quickened – roused to action
Most of us are a hodge-podge of all these. I’m hoping you might leave a comment noting which reactions seem strongest in you.
Big thanks to this week’s sources: Merriam-Webster, Wordnik, Etymonline, Collins Dictionary, Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, 1959, & the OED.
I’ve just stumbled upon a Proto-Indo-European word that meant to rise like smoke, vapor or mist. The word is dheu-, & it has some intriguing offspring.
Because things that rise like smoke eventually disappear, dheu-‘s offspring include both dwindle (1590s through Old & Middle English) & die (die has been around forever & came through Old English). Dead & death were also born of dheu-, and like die, came to English so early we have no date of entry. Though nobody has nailed it down, it appears that after sometime while dheu- was visiting the Latin language, it grew into the word funeral.
At some point it seems rising like smoke suggested a limited ability or intelligence, as dheu- also gave us dizzy (also an Old English word that’s been around forever, initially meaning stupid or foolish). Dheu- also gave us dull, as in witless, blunt, not sharp. Dull showed up in English about 1200. Another word that showed up from this vein of dheu- is dumb (meaning both unable to speak & lacking in intelligence, now considered rude in either usage). Dumb appeared early enough in English, we have no date for its arrival.
The word dew also came from this source, appearing very early in English, from Old English.
Both airborne & settled smoke can be called dust, which came from dheu- through old Germanic languages.
Any of you who have walked across a patch of thyme while inhaling have experience with why it might have come from a word meaning rises like smoke. Thyme came to English from dheu- in the 1300s after a voyage through Greek, Latin, & Old French.
Fume made its way to English in the 1300s, also from dheu-.
And apparently because swirling dust can make one confused, the mental confusion & stupor associated with the disease typhus gave that disease its name in 1785, taken from the root dheu- after it spent some time vacationing in Greece & Rome.
Because an animal in cold weather creates small clouds of vapor with its breath, the deer got its name from dheu-, which came through old Germanic tongues to land very early on in Old English.
Dwindle, die, dead, death, funeral, dizzy, dull, dumb, dew, dust, thyme & typhus: they all started as a cloud of smoke, vapor or mist.
Anything to say about all this? Please leave a comment.
Big thanks to this week’s sources: Merriam-Webster, Wordnik, Etymonline, Collins Dictionary, & the OED.
I write for teens, narrate audio books, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.