I Like Fridays


Old English Frīgedæg ‘day of Frigga,’ named after the Germanic goddess Frigga, wife of the supreme god Odin and goddess of married love; translation of late Latin Veneris dies ‘day of Venus,’ Frigga being equated with the Roman goddess of love, Venus. Compare with Dutch vrijdag and German Freitag .


Years ago I did a little mini-study about how the days of the week got their names.  It was most interesting, a carry-over of Greek and Roman mythology that has translated down through the centuries into other languages and cultures.

Related image

Frigga (Freya)  used a chariot pulled by cats.  So you know right there that the story is a myth 🙂

I don’t think about Frigga when Friday rolls around 🙂  I think about the beginning of my treasured four-day weekend, which is, for me, a reward for all the years of working five or six days a week.  At this point in my life, at age 71, I COULD retire.  I don’t want to just yet, though, and with every new client who comes into my office looking for help, I know I’m still where I need to be.

I do value my status as an independent contractor.  I can choose how much I work, and when I want to work.  That’s very nice.

During the school year, every other Friday I get to teach a class for the home school co-op our church hosts.  This year, we’re studying the Constitution and Current Events, which,  believe me,  is never boring.  Plenty of news to keep us talking, and figuring out what our Constitution is really all about.

So yes, I like Fridays.

RDP: Friday

Etymology is Great Fun!


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I know what the word can mean today, from conjuring up a delicious meal to conjuring a good story (or lie), or doing magic tricks. But of course, as always, I’m curious about the original meanings of words and how they came to mean to us what they do today.  So, of course, I looked it up 🙂

Middle English (also in the sense ‘oblige by oath’): from Old French conjurer‘to plot or exorcize,’ from Latin conjurare ‘band together by an oath, conspire’ (in medieval Latin ‘invoke’), from con- ‘together’ + jurare ‘swear.’
Isn’t that interesting?  We often think of the prefix con as being against something. But it can also mean together, as in congregate, or Congress, or convene.  Combined with jurare, to swear or make an oath,  the word became to come together to make an oath, to conspire, to plot or exorcise, or to oblige by oath. 
Now the question is, how did all that come to be associated with magic?  The answer lies around 1300 a.d  when the magical sense came to be  “constraining by spell” a demon to do one’s bidding.
Well, that  certainly doesn’t go along with pulling rabbits out of hats and making flowers out of silks, does it?  Who among us would hire a person who constrains a demon to do his bidding at a children’s birthday party?
It often surprises me how words that had rather dark origins can come to mean something so lighthearted as doing simple “magic” tricks for entertainment. Sleight of hand requires hours and hours of practice to perfect, and I have a lot of admiration for people who can make quarters appear out of their thumbs 🙂
I have wondered, though, about those who put on elaborate shows that truly don’t have any discernible logical explanation but are vastly entertaining.
Right now, I need to conjure up the energy to go do some laundry.  Nothing magical about that!

Who Else?


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It is always so interesting to me where our words come from. This one has a lengthy history:

Jump to Etymology – From French drôle (“comical, odd, funny”), from drôle (“buffoon”) from Middle French drolle (“a merry fellow, pleasant rascal”) from Old French drolle (“one who lives luxuriously”), from Middle Dutch drol (“fat little man, goblin”) from Old Norse troll (“giant, troll”) (compare Middle High German trolle (“clown”)),


I don’t know about you, but the first image that comes to mind for me when I see the word droll is this one:

Probably, my connection is from Clement C. Moore’s famous  story, which contains this verse:

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

These days, we tend to think of droll as being somewhat sly, humorous, impish.  And I suppose that all applies  to our picture of Santa 🙂


With Care


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This word certainly has a fascinating history. It has traveled from the Latin genitus (well-born) to Old French gent (graceful) to Old French gensor (delicate) to the more modern gingerly, meaning daintily, mincingly. 

It has nothing at all to do with ginger, the spice. Rather, it traces back to the belief that people who were born with noble blood were as a matter of nature very graceful, delicate, dainty, and careful.  It was the belief that these qualities were caught, not taught–although children of noble blood were certainly schooled in noble behavior. I do hope, though, that they are not taught to walk mincingly. That doesn’t bring a pleasant picture to mind:




Seriously glad these dainty, delicate ways of dressing for men of the nobility are no longer “in.”

These days, we may handle a difficult matter gingerly–with care, so as not to create damage. We may pick our way through a field of poison ivy gingerly.  Personally, I’d walk miles to get around it completely if that were necessary.  The word has come to mean carefully, gently, with concern, and has very little to do with the manner of walking or moving.

I think that’s a good thing.

In that picture?  The combination of lip rouge and scruffy beard just cracks me up 🙂



Not Up to Snuff


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To be substandard is to be below the acceptable state.  A rotten tomato is substandard.  So is a rotten politician, but I won’t go there today.  What intrigues me is a saying I’ve heard for years:  “It’s just not up to snuff.”

Really?  Snuff?  I know what that is, but the connection  eludes me, so off I go to word etymology and the origin of such phrases.

There are two meaning for this rather funny word. The original snuff has a hidden origin, and during the 14th century is referred to the burnt part of a candlewick.  Used as a verb, then, to snuff a candle was to extinguish the flame.

Image result for snuff a candle


Then there is the powdered tobacco that was inhaled through the nostrils, beginning later, in the 1680’s. A rather nasty habit, in my opinion, but then we have plenty of our own nasty habits–like spitting tobacco juice from a chaw.  Blech.

Image result for Elegant man inhaling snuff

The meaning of snuff, then, was to draw up through the nose.  The word soon became a noun, and snuff was carried in elegant and often quite expensive and elaborate snuff boxes.

The verb form has also come to be applied to having a head cold, or, as we would say, a case of the sniffles–a word derived from snuffle, which isn’t used as often these days.

Interestingly, snuffing tobacco is likely to have come from the Dutch word snuiftabak, whose meaning is pretty obvious.  Because the habit of snuffing tobacco was  popular in Europe for a very long time, it became quite refined as better-quality varieties were created.  So being up to snuff  was to be of excellent quality rather than just satisfactory or usual.  Bad snuff was substandard, to be sure.

In my browsing of this word, I also read an unsubstantiated idea that, since the sense of smell is the first to go when a person is dying, that poor soul was said to be “not up to snuff.”

I think that’s a stretch.  My sense of smell started dying several years ago, and I don’t think I’m quite ready to turn up my toes just yet.

Turn up my toes.  There’s another interesting little phrase. . . .


A Bite to Eat


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Snack.  Isn’t that a funny word to say? Snack.

So of course I had to check the etymology.  Where would such a strange word come from?

Wiki tells me that it originated with the Old Dutch snappen, meaning a little bite.  Middle Dutch transformed it to snacken, for reasons we will probably never know, and so it comes to us as snack.  A little bite.  A small meal eaten between larger meals.


Here’s a healthy-looking snack.  I enjoy that sort of mini-meal, especially if someone else is preparing it 🙂

I’d rather have this, though:


Yes, I know it’s very bad for me on so many levels, and I rarely indulge these days.  It’s not nearly as attractive as the hummus platter, but something about that wrapper just calls my name.

So here’s a question for all the philosophical souls out there:  Why are the things that are so BAD for us the things we want more than we want the things that are so GOOD for us?

Don’t lose any sleep over it. Go have a healthy snack.  Or unhealthy 🙂


Sought Out


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exquisite (adj.) Look up exquisite at Dictionary.comearly 15c., “carefully selected,” from Latin exquisitus “choice,” literally “carefully sought out,” from past participle stem of exquirere “search out thoroughly,” from ex- “out” (see ex-) + quaerere “to seek” (see query (v.)).

Originally in English of any thing (good or bad, torture and diseases as well as art) brought to a highly wrought condition, sometimes shading into disapproval. The main modern meaning, “of consummate and delightful excellence” is first attested 1579, in Lyly’s “Euphues.” Related: Exquisitely; exquisiteness. The noun meaning “a dandy, fop” is from 1819. Bailey’s Dictionary (1727) has exquisitous “not natural, but procured by art.”

Here’s another word that most of us  know how to use. The development of the word, however, was a little surprising to me. From “carefully selected or sought out” to “any thing brought to a highly wrought condition,” including pain. Exquisite pain?  I think I’ll pass on that, thanks.

There was a time when an exquisite (noun) was a fop, or dandy.


These were men who spent hours and hours on their wigs, makeup, outfits and jewels. It was a rather sneery term, actually. To be called an Exquisite didn’t exactly mean you were a manly man.

These days, we think of lovely things, works of art, as being exquisite. We also give a nod to women who just seem to have the innate ability to look perfect all the time as having exquisite taste.

We also enjoy an exquisitely prepared meal, or even  just a cup of unusually good coffee. That’s what I’m doing right now. Enjoying exquisite coffee at my leisure.

No church for me this morning. I’m not quite ready for that after having had a small surgery last week. It’s been a bit harder than I expected, more painful and more side effects.  I’m worn out and not willing to have to keep up appearances for a couple of hours. And no one wants to hear an organ recital 🙂

I’m sure that by next Sunday I’ll be restored to exquisite good health.


Words Mean Things


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I’m always curious about the etymology of a word, so of course I looked it up in the online Etymology Dictionary.  Interesting history, really:

filthy (adj.)Look up filthy at Dictionary.comlate 12c., fulthe, “corrupt, sinful,” from filth + -y (2). Meaning “physically unclean, dirty, noisome” is from late 14c. Meaning “morally dirty, obscene” is from 1530s.

In early use often hardly more emphatic than the mod. dirty; it is now a violent expression of disgust, seldom employed in polite colloquial speech. [OED]

The word noisome, by the way, has nothing to do with noise.  It indicates a state of dirtiness that is just not acceptable.

Anyway, I think  it’s interesting that in its first appearance in the English language, filthiness was a character (or lack thereof) quality rather than a physical uncleanness. Later, it became a physical uncleanness, and now it is often applied to that which is considered morally dirty or obscene.  Words change with usage. The English language is quite elastic, and there are words that everyone used to agree were filthy, and no decent person would use them.
We’ve certainly fallen a long way from that standard. Filthy language has become so common that it has no real meaning.  The F-Bomb has become just another overused adjective, like nice. The difference, of course is that the F-Bomb is more often used to express contempt and anger.
Words do mean things. Words have power, and angry words have a very strong power to demoralize, degrade, and cause fear. Whoever first said that silly “sticks and stones” thing was apparently never subjected to really horrible words, because words can and do hurt.  If that were not so, then we wouldn’t use them against each other for the specific purpose of causing harm.
And that’s my little morality lecture for the day.  Here’s a challenge:  If you are a person who has fallen into the habit of casual use of filthy words, just for today, stop it. Use better words. Increase you vocabulary.  Try it, you’ll like it. And so will all the people who have to hear your unpleasant language.


Irked to No End


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I saw this word and immediately heard my mom’s voice in my head saying something “just irks me to no end!”

What a funny word.  Irk.  Irksome.  So irritating you can hardly stand it.

The etymology says the word comes from the Old Norse  yrkja, which meant exactly what it means today.  Working on your last nerve.

I’ll tell you what I find irksome right now:  Political calls, fundraising calls, calls that have no apparent purpose because when I (rarely) do answer one, there’s no one on the other end.

Image result for unsolicited phone calls

I’m so glad we finally got caller ID on our phones. If we hadn’t, I may be doing time for beating up on unsolicited phone calls.  They are intrusive, unwelcome, and, yes, irksome.


God is Never Perplexed


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Late 15th century (as the adjective perplexed ): from the obsolete adjectiveperplex ‘bewildered,’ from Latin perplexus ‘entangled,’ based on plexus‘interwoven,’ from the verb plectere .

I like to know the etymology of a word, how it developed over time, and sometimes how it changes. This one has stayed pretty much the same in meaning.

The Latin plexus meant interwoven, or all tangled up like a skein of yarn that the cat played with.

Sometimes the knot is just impossible to untangle, and you have to snip it off and throw it away.  Perplexing.

Life can be like that. Sometimes you just can’t untangle the threads, and you simply have to  accept that.  In my work, the temptation to want to fix everything and everybody is very strong. One of the hardest things I had to accept is that I can’t. Sometimes all I can do is listen, commiserate, offer comfort, offer scripture, reassure that this too shall pass.

Death doesn’t go away, but the extreme pain of grief does become more bearable with time. Divorce, children who go wrong, rape and other assault–these leave a person trembling and traumatized. It’s not what anyone signs up for. They are perplexing events that sometimes you just have to accept, snip that particular thread in your life, and allow yourself to walk through the grief so that healing can begin.

Life can be very hard. Often we are perplexed. I am so thankful that I have God and His Word to help through the things that could defeat me if I didn’t have my faith. I don’t think I buy into the “everything happens for a purpose” philosophy. Sometimes things just happen because that’s a part of life.  What I do know is that God has promised to walk with me, to never leave me or forsake me, to be with me always.

That knowledge makes that which is  perplexing much easier to bear.