Misconceptions about Language

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   RitaBay




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5 responses to “Misconceptions about Language

  1. Rita,

    I love these word misconception posts! My personal favorite is crap and Crapper. I always got a little embarrassed for poor Mr. Crapper when I heard someone refer to the toilet that way, but not anymore! Thank you for clearing that up for me!

    • Hey Rose, I’ve been remiss. Had my posts all written through the end of the month but haven’t posted. Conference was great but my list of to-do’s was long. Loved your book Her Secondhand Groom. Went to Amazon. Had no idea that you’d written so many. All look great. Where can I find it in pdf? Rita Bay

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