or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Monday, December 29, 2008

Under Wraps

I do believe I promised you "(s)keu-" on Christmas day, and by god, you shall have it.

Indo-European "(s)keu-" meant "to cover: to conceal", and it gave rise to the most startling array of English words, every one of which can be seen to have some sense of the original word. "Hose", of course, I mentioned earlier: a cover for the legs. ("Culottes" is another pants-word from this source, from, obviously, French.) But also:

"Scum", which covers a pond or a boiling pot, and also "skim", which you do to remove that covering.

"Sky"; not because the sky covers us, but because in Old Norse, "sky" meant "cloud", and clouds cover us.

"Obscure" (and Italian "chiaroscuro", literally "light and dark", "chiaro" being related to French "clair", which is related to English "clear"), originally from Latin "obscurus", "covered" (and therefore dark).

"Custody", from Latin "custos", "guard", and who has you covered better than someone who's guarding you?

"Hide". Both the verb ("to conceal") and the noun ("the skin of an animal") are from "(s)keu-", but they took slightly different paths, both through Old English: the first, through "hydan", later Middle English "hiden", with the usual Germanic verb ending, and the second through "hyd".

"Cunt", from Latin "cunnus", "sheath".

"Huddle", which perhaps is a very abstract sense of covering or concealing, since it means "to crowd together", but the idea of a group of people or animals tightly grouped for communal shelter presents itself.

"Cuticle", from Latin "cutis", "skin", plus the usual "-cle" diminutive suffix, and also "subcutaneous", "beneath the skin".

"Hoard", a thing hidden away, from Old English.

And finally, and best, "kishke", direct from Russian: a kishke is a sort of sausage, using chicken intestines as the casing, and "kishke" (or "kishka") is the Russian word for "intestines", which, like "cunnus", make a sort of sheath.


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