Misconceptions about Word Origins

The word “crap” did not originate as a back-formation of British plumber Thomas Crapper’s surname, nor does his name originate from the word “crap”, although the surname may have helped popularize the word. The surname “Crapper” is a variant of “Cropper”, which originally referred to someone who harvested crops. The word “crap” ultimately comes from Medieval Latin crappa, meaning “chaff”.

The phrase “sleep tight” did not originally refer to a supposed Medieval or early modern practice of tightening feather mattresses with ropes. The word “tight” here simply means “soundly”.

Despite being commonly believed today, people during the Old and Middle English speaking periods never pronounced “the” as “ye.” The confusion derives from the character thorn, which in old print (þe or ye) often looked like a y.

Tomorrow, More Misconceptions about Word Origins   Rita Bay

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One response to “Misconceptions about Word Origins

  1. I’m loving this. You are systematically destroying all the things I thought I knew. Are you going to explain the ‘f’ word and the ‘sh..’ – please. I want to make sure I have those right. (grinning at the misinformation that’s circulated all over the ‘net’). Thanks for this. I’m learning a lot.

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