or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Last month I mentioned a usage error in a page-a-day calendar which I get by e-mail, and dang if they haven't gone and done it again on yesterday's page.

The KnitList is a Yahoo e-mail list that boasts a worldwide membership of over 7,000! It’s easy to subscribe, and the strictly enforced “stick to your knitting” rule ensures that all the content really is useful and knitting related. The site also has a great many valuable “Tips” and other links to super-practical information (such as the “Useful Knitting Tools” section, which will give you pointers on how everything from dental floss to insulation board can make your knitting life a little simpler). Best of all is the link to the archived KnitList Gift Exchange patterns of the past ten years, which is the motherload of great holiday gift ideas—along with the free patterns to make ’em.

I know all about the KnitList: I used to belong to it (and even contributed a pattern or two to the Gift Exchange). Here's something I don't know: why the writer(s) of the calendar used the word "motherload", which I can't say doesn't exist--it gets 625,000 Google hits, and people use it all the time--but which I can say is wrong.

The original term is "mother lode". A lode is a vein of ore, and a mother lode is a particularly rich one, specifically the large vein from which the other smaller veins seem to feed. Sometimes the term is expressed as a single word, "motherlode". However, it is not, correctly, "motherload", or even "mother load".

The words "lode" and "load", mind you, are related. You could say they're the same word: they certainly used to be, both stemming from the Old English word "lade", which also exists in English (most usually as the adjective "laden", or in the shipping term "bill of lading"). A lode is a heavily laden vein of metal ore. The senses of "lode" and "load", however, diverged and have not reconverged. At least not while I have anything to say about the matter.


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