or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, October 04, 2007

In Dutch

A couple of days ago I quoted the use of the word "waffle" (in passing) in an odd and amusing context--the verb used as a noun meaning "nonsense" or "bafflegab". Today I stumbled across a knitting pattern for a pair of socks using a stitch pattern the creator has called "diamond waffle". Well, I know when the universe is pointing me in a particular direction.

Perhaps expectedly, the noun ("a griddle cake with an indented lattice pattern") and the verb ("to equivocate") are entirely unrelated. Hard to imagine how they could have any relationship, really, though of course English is spackled with stranger things.

The noun comes from the Dutch "wafel", which is still the Dutch word for a waffle, as attributed by the delicious stroopwafel, which is made of two small, thin, chewy waffles cemented together with caramel. Once you've seen the word "wafel", you can't help but think it must somehow have engendered, or at least be related to, "wafer", and in fact it is.

The verb, on the other hand, appears to have sprung from an obsolete Scottish onomatopeic verb, "to waff", which means "to yelp". The meaning of "waff" eventually mutated to mean "to talk nonsense" and then "to vacillate", which is where it remains.


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