OH, I do like a good word.
Exhibit A: window. I hear you exclaim, like Lady Bracknell on the subject of handbags: "A window?" Yes, madam, a window. I know it sounds unremarkable. Bear with me and I'll take you on an etymological adventure.
I'm a man of simple pleasures. One is to guess the etymology of words. For what else would you guess the etymology of?
I take, say, the word "sausage" and guess it comes from the Latin sausagus, meaning "heart attack", in turn from the Greek sausakon, denoting "a democratic deficit wherein one country is ruled by another and the stupid citizens support this".
Wrong. "Sausage", according to Douglas Harper's Online Etymology Dictionary, is from Old North French saussiche, in turn from Vulgar Latin salsica, from salsicus ("seasoned with salt") from salsus ("salted").
See what wizard fun this is? Back and back you go. The other day I decided to go where no Rab had gone before, boldly or otherwise, and typed in "window". I guessed it was Germanic, but was unprepared for this bombshell: window means "wind eye".
How wonderfully windy is yon? It's from the Old Norse vindauga – what problem do these people have with the letter "w"? – from vindr ("wind") and auga ("eye").
Boy, that made my day. I'll never look upon a window the same way again. If we bung ourselves through the window, we come perilously close to defenestration, a word that somehow sounds like it involves the removal of the marriage prospects.
It was coined specifically for the "Defenestration of Prague", when Protestant radicals threw two Catholic deputies oot the wind eye. It comes from the Latin "fenestra" for window, with possible Etruscan influence. But I knew that. "Lie", incidentally, is from the Old English legan.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.