A Head Full Of Connections

Often when I am alone and my mind is free to wander, I am drawn to make connections between things I observe and things I know. Hisstarstorical things. Cultural things. Sometimes something I see or hear will trigger a question of etymology. I see a word or name in a new light and wonder, what’s the association there? Why are cantaloupes named for the call of the wolf? What does porcelain have to do with pigs? How does lactation fit into galactic? (It all goes back to the Milky Way) Is there any link between taxicabs and taxidermy? (There isn’t. Different root.)

I was out walking and happened to see an advertisement that used the word POSH. A widely held and completely unsubstantiated explanation of its etymology is that it originated with British sea voyage to India and that the most desirable staterooms were, on a round trip, “Port Out, Starboard Home”, and that this acronym was stamped on tickets of passage in purple ink. The problem is thaposht, though many souvenir tickets still exist in scrapbooks and museums, not a single one is so stamped, not in purple or otherwise. And who would such a stamp inform? The passenger would know what they had reserved. The crew would surely know the stateroom’s orientation by its number.

Like many etymological theories, the real origins of posh are speculative but a late nineteenth century dictionary of Romany (gypsy) terms lists “pash” as describing a dandy. By the early twentieth century, P. G. Wodehouse used it in its currently understood sense in a story, suggesting that by then it had entered into common parlance.

So, that’s a glimpse at what goes on inside my head when I am by myself.

What goes on in your head? Any favorite etymology?

57 thoughts on “A Head Full Of Connections”

  1. what is the root of fart?
    fa as in do re mi fa ? is that the tone to shoot for?
    far ? where you want to be when you leave a sbd behind? (silent but deadly)
    or art? the art of being human. my dogs pass gas in a guilt free fashion and you can tell what they ate

    https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=A0LEVv2zT7lYV2wAiwInnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTByOHZyb21tBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg–?qid=20060721024329AA8cUAW&p=why%20do%20they%20call%20it%20a%20fart

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  2. Snippets of songs and hymns, bits of sentences or paragraphs I need to put into a piece of writing (could be a work email could be something more creative), rhythms, did I mention songs?…

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      1. Previously this week it was finding the right words to put into a card for a friend recently diagnosed with cancer – the sort of situation where “get well soon” just won’t cut it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    What goes on in my head is this constant stream of thoughts, ideas, memories, and images. Of late the memories are more present.

    I have been disassembling old photo albums from my own life and that of my family before me. (Note my request to Little Jail Bird for lessons on how to work with digital images several days ago!). I have been looking at pictures of treasured relatives, now gone. The thoughts of some of them tweak my heart and I feel such a sense of loss of them.

    So not much about the source of words is in my head, but many thoughts about the nature of life and death and family.

    And then there are the decisions about whether or not this particular picture is at all worth saving. Most of them are not, but I not ready to throw them. So I am just imagining throwing them away. Maybe tomorrow I can do it.

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  4. I too have been sorting and scanning old family photos. I look at some from my grandparent’s generation and realize that in some cases I may be the only person left on the planet who can identify those people, people who have been gone for 50 years or more. It doesn’t seem right to consign them to oblivion. It reminds you how close is oblivion to all of us and how pervasive.

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      1. Many of these people were gone long before my kids were born, long before I was even an adult. They belonged to a different era. My kids would have no context for them.

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        1. Bill, I was contemplating my own demise. You can’t get much closer to oblivion without actually being dead. At least you have kids and grand kids who carry with them part of your DNA even if they reject all of your earthly possessions. Once I’m dead it’s the end of my short branch on the family tree.

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        2. i always thought it was so nice to get to have a life that involved stuff you want to do, with kids the world becomes an errand and an appointment and a list of stuff to get and to do and to prepare for and to respond to. my friends who had no kids got to go places and do things and reach for the goals they wanted in true undisturbed bliss
          a different way of doing it from the suburban soccer mom version of adulthood. death does put a different spin on it but you have led a life not possible with ankle biters dragging along fo the ride.
          i was worried about what folks thought of me until i realized they dont think of me all that often.

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  5. Nothing as intellectually stimulating as etymology….

    My mind wanders all the time…always has….unless or until I have some project of interest and intrigue. When that happens I am entirely focused on the subject at hand…which can involve many branches of research or design/drawing series prior to completing a said project.

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  6. The visual: line, form, rhythm/flow, pattern, contrast, grace (awkwardness), balance (imbalance), colors and their effect on each other and the viewer, tone, design, form and function, style, fashion, cultural expression, body language, poise, etc. And yes, what old photographs capture and inform us about ourselves,and how beauty can emerge from the mundane.. Shorpy is a good site for old photos.
    .http://www.shorpy.com/

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  7. Boustrophedon. These days it refers to bi-directional text. But the Greek root is “ox turning”… because the pattern made by oxen ploughing a field is bi-directional:

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  8. There are just a lot of things in my head competing for attention – this week my mom’s adjustment to (yet another) new room has been at the top. I’ve also been attempting to meditate (Jon Kabat-Zinn book) for the first time in years, and am aware of all the… shall we say detritus… that in there.

    I too sometimes hover over a word and wonder where it came from. For instance: Detritus – … loose fragments of rock, debris [from the Latin via the French – rubbing away].

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  9. I write a daily letter to a friend whose range of interest has been shrinking for many years. As she ages, fewer and fewer topics matter to her. When I’m relaxed I often have a background discussion going on in my head in which I play with concepts and phrases that could go into the next letter.

    This habit has been with me for decades. When I wrote a monthly column for my magazine the challenge was finding something funny or thoughtful to say once a month. That put me in the permanent position of seeking material. On one of the worst moments in my life I looked on as a car killed one of my dogs. As I looked down at the dead dog, a little voice in the back of my head was taking notes. “You can get a column out of this,” it said.

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      1. Yes. I didn’t want to write a column just about grief, so I waited until we had bought the replacement puppy. That column mentioned the sad event but looked ahead to the good times we anticipated with the new puppy.

        To understand why the writer’s voice doesn’t shut up, you need to live with the obligation to have something interesting to say . . . over and over.

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        1. I can imagine that, Steve. I just found it interesting that you were aware in that awful moment that the voice was speaking to you.

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  10. In my head is a constant stream of consciousness commentary on what I see, think and feel, bits and pieces of songs, movies, TV shows, wondering why the sky is so blue and the sunrise is so pretty, why some people are so mean and how others can be so saintly in the face of it.

    I’ve been going back and forth watching either “The Crown” or “Madam Secretary” on Netflix — both excellent shows. After watching the Crown, for some reason it surprised me that Queen Elizabeth II is still ruling Queen and her husband, Phillip, is still alive as well. She’s 90 and he’s 95!! And still married all this time. The whole monarchy thing in Britain is just so weird, but fascinating.

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      1. I think the series on QE2 is pretty well grounded in fact, Jacque. It is an interesting series. For me, the production values are astonishing. I’m less excited about the story line, but the photography, music, acting, lighting and so forth are top quality.

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      2. Yeah, when i did a little search to see what they were up to, Prince Phillip was known for making some public gaffes and saying semi-stupid, embarrassing or “way too honest for monarchy” type things. I was wondering if the scathing letters former King Edward wrote to his wife about his family were factual. Not exactly a loving family picture here.

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        1. I don’t find the members of this family especially interesting as people. What is interesting, though, is the tensions resulting from living the queer life of a royal person. These people have the usual problems of being happy and living a normal life, only they also are forced to act out a nation’s fantasy of what royalty is like. Life itself is challenging for us all. Life under the terrible eye of publicity is much more challenging, no matter whether you are a rock star, a queen or a movie celebrity.

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        2. After watching The Crown, I cannot fathom how unhappy and untenable a life these people are living. Ick.

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  11. Here’s an interesting corollary I just was on msn.com
    http://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/family-relationships/ever-wondered-why-there%e2%80%99s-an-r-in-mrs/ar-AAnkoFg?li=BBnb7Kz
    on why the title Mrs. has an R in it:

    “That’s because Mrs. wasn’t always the abbreviation for missus. Centuries ago, it stood for mistress, which at the time meant the woman of the household. A governess who looked after children was also called a mistress. Eventually, the abbreviation became the title for married women, while men used Mr., pronounced master.”

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  12. I’ve seen no mention so far here of the dual posting today. There is another 3/3/2017 post that is accessed through a link from Tuesday’s post, “Validation.” There have been a few comments on the anomaly, “over there” wherever that is. No complaints, just letting you know if you haven’t seen the other post.

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  13. Daughter and Husband seem to think a lot about what their next meal will be. Husband is always planning and writing grocery lists, and daughter always worries that when she travels with us we won’t stop to feed her. I can’t imagine why she worries about that, since we always fed her.

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    1. I could use someone like your husband here – no, I’m not trying to take him away from you, just envious of those attributes. I would love for someone else to be planning meals and writing grocery lists. Especially if they could manage to make a grocery list that takes into account staples that are always running low, such as bananas, oranges, apples. I went shopping yesterday and somehow managed to forget all three of those items, plus a couple others.

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    2. I find that I worry about when I can eat when I don’t have time set aside for it – like when I was building sets on a Saturday afternoon I found myself worrying endlessly about when I could stop to eat (which, realistically, was whenever I wanted to…but the brain didn’t seem to understand that…)

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  14. As my old boss Earl Armstrong used to say: “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.”

    Actually, I ponder all kinds of things. What to cook for dinner is a daily subject unless I have cooked a big pot of something so I can skip a day. When watching Jeopardy, I ponder the random array of trivia that is taking up space in my brain. How did it get there, and how come it has stayed? Useless most of it, although it does give me a sense of satisfaction when I’m able to pull the correct question out of the hat.

    As tim is fond of saying, his interests and knowledge are a mile wide and an inch deep. I can relate to that. I know snippets of all kinds of facts, but it is not an organized assemblage of knowledge. I’m not particularly proud of that, or even comfortable with it, but I guess that’s the price you pay for being a big picture versus a detail oriented person. So far this approach has served me reasonably well, so no complaints.

    No favorite etymology that I can think of at the moment.

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  15. I don’t muse on the etymology of words so much as I think about the origins of idioms. As someone familiar with firearms, some phrases mean something different for me than for most folks. I know what “going off half-cocked” meant originally. Or “a flash in the pan.” Our daily conversation is filled with figurative language phrases we now use with no awareness of their origins.

    Usually people don’t know the phrases they are using had a particular origin. For example, take the phrase “she won’t stand for it.” Most people hear that as another way of saying that some person won’t tolerate something. People with strange brains (like mine) know the phrase arises with livestock management and we are tempted to blush.

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  16. Part of what inspired me to write this post is my awareness that I really have no idea what goes on in other people’s heads– what they know, how they reason, their hierarchy of values, what forms their opinions. This was made eminently clear by the result of the recent election. I could assume that other people’s thought process is similar to mine, but I see no evidence of that.
    I am frequently surprised by the ignorance displayed by television and radio presenters. Of course they are all much younger than they used to be…
    What assumptions do you feel comfortable making about other people’s minds?

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    1. my wife goes nuts when i casually state the premise behind the thought expressed by someone and i simply state that this is what they were thinking. its like little storylines pop into my head and the premise leads to an every growing interwoven world full of rules i made up that go with my new world invented. . its kind of like improv where you state a rule and then it is a given and you build off it.
      i kept wondering how come everyone was so upset with hillary and the wall street relationships for the hard left dems and the bengazzi email rants on the right. after the russian news and how the leaks and given abilities to influence folks to think in the way you want to direct them it is very relevant today. the fact that news is made by focusing on negative scary upsetting stuff is really a sad discovery about mankind. i like to keep myself propped up with positive and inspirational input but i admit that a day can be flattened by a couple of naysayers in the crowd who poision the well and foul the air for creative positive flow.
      in my world music positive stories and vibes and discussions that go into a hope for an improved so;ution and a stwep in the right direction are the way my brain rolls. if the ugly meter gets cranked up i bail

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      1. tim, you are one of natures wonders! I have thought it many times, may even have stated it on the trail before: glad I’m not your wife, but sure enjoy you from a distance.

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  17. Much of my job consists of finding out what is going on in people’s minds. It is terribly interesting, often fraught with error, and never dull. I have lots of tests to help me figure out what is going on in those crania.

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  18. What goes on in my head? …mostly down-to-earth stuff, no word etymology or anything that deep. Here’s a sampling:

    * What’s for supper (I’m the chief cook)
    * I better start the laundry
    * I wish people who manage to get their clothes into the hamper would also manage to turn them all right side out
    * Where should I go to take pictures this week
    * I wish I had more lenses for my camera, or even a camera that is more professional
    * I really don’t want to clean up that mess
    * Thank goodness I have most bills on autopay so I can put off dealing with papers for another week. or two.
    * Time for chocolate

    And now you know. Fascinating, eh?

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  19. I have never thought about cantaloupe being related to wolves in any way. That sent me off thinking about lupus, a disease named after wolves, for reasons I don’t understand. For that matter, why is cancer thought to have anything to do with crustaceans?

    Medical terminology is peppered with odd connections like that. The term hysteria came from the Greek word for uterus. It was thought to be a condition that afflicted mainly women, so it was termed “suffering in the womb”. Later it morphed into a word that it used to describe something that is very, very funny.

    I once read that doctors in England were stumped by an unusual rash they were seeing in their female patients centuries ago. They called it “hysterical rash”. It eventually turned out that the rash was a reaction to poison ivy. The plant, which was native to North America, had been brought back to England and planted in gardens by unsuspecting women who thought it was just a pretty vine.

    Liked by 1 person

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