Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Some Fade Away

Yesterday in a telephone conversation, I heard Brigitte say: “So they were at loggerheads?” The caller, who was a younger sort, had never heard that phrase. Both of us knew it, but we didn’t know its origins. Online Etymology Dictionary to the rescue. Once long ago a “logger” meant a “heavy block of wood”—rather than “a timber man”—or, perhaps, mindful of the new correctness, a “timber person.” Joined to “head” the word signified a “stupid person.” A close relative is the “blockhead.” That was back in the sixteenth century. It took another century before the still lingering meaning of “at loggerheads” came to mean “to be in disagreement”; the phrase was first recorded in the 1670s. It is the season of peace and harmony, but some people are still at loggerheads. In this particular instance, a daughter and her mother. Well, well. Some things never change—even as old words are gradually crowded out of circulation by inundations of the new. I’m not LOL.

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