Answers I Wish I Could Send: Etymology Edition

Oh, lovely! The kind of pseudo-connections to which my favorite reply is “Of course! As obvious as sunrise and sunset! (Beat, beat) Of course, the sun doesn’t rise or set at all. The Earth takes us into and out of its light.”

harm·less drudg·ery

[Ed. note: one in a series.  Emails are only lightly edited for–if you can believe it–clarity.]

Your online dictionary defines “peak” as “a pointed or projecting part of a garment; especially :  the visor of a cap or hat”; and tentatively derives the word from “pike”. This is false. “Peak” derives from “beak” (which is why “bill” is a synonym). If I am correct, your definition should be modified.

Your logic is unassailable: “peak” looks like the word “beak,” and both hats and birds have a bill. Or rather, only the hats that truly matter–good American hats–have a bill. I don’t know why we didn’t see this before.

Oh, wait–we didn’t see it before because that’s not how etymology works. Imagine being tasked with creating ancestral photo albums for everyone in your family. You start with your second-cousin; you have, as your guide and starting point, a photo of…

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More from Ysabetwordsmith!

Ysabetwordsmith writes wonderful poetry. I mean that literally: It’s full of wonders, and wonder, and wonderment. And she rewards readers for offering prompts in line with whatever her current theme is, and for spreading the word. Dialecticdreamer, whose stories I follow as attentively as Ysabet’s poems (which usually also are stories), is arranging the “linkback” reward. See her latest linkback post here; go read that, she explains it better than I would.

To entice you into participating in this Fishbowl (Ysabet writing with us, as it were, looking over her shoulder), here’s the beginning of this linkback poem, quoted from dialecticdreamer’s post:

Nascent Wisdom

Jewish women’s magic is
the magic of everyday things.

There’s more “trailer” in dd‘s linkback post.

Everyday Heroes: A Story of Self-Sacrifice & Bubonic Plague

An amazing act of courage and honor. All praise to them

The Chirurgeon's Apprentice


On 1 November 1666, a young farmer named Abraham Morten took one final, agonizing breath. He was the last of 260 people to die of bubonic plague in the remote village of Eyam in Derbyshire. His fate had been sealed four months earlier when villagers decided to shut themselves off from the rest of the world: a sacrifice they made in order to save the lives of their neighbors in surrounding villages.

eyam-plague-plaque.jpgThe nightmare began on an unremarkable day in September, 1665. George Viccars—a local tailor in Eyam—received a consignment of cloth from London for his shop. Upon inspection, Viccars noticed that the cloth was damp. He hung it before his fire to dry, not realizing that it was playing host to fleas that were carrying the bubonic plague.

Viccars was dead within a week.

The pestilence spread rapidly throughout the village. Panic broke out as villagers began making preparations…

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