We'll enjoy some horse-related words, some unfamiliar, some familiar but with interesting equine aspects. With luck, this horse theme will tie into several future themes.
capriole - a playful leap or jump; a caper
In root this is a goat-word, not a horse-word, but it also means a leap by a trained horse, with a backward kick of the hind legs
[from It capriola, somersault (via Fr), and ultimately from L capreolus, diminutive of caper, capr-, goat. Nice image, of a goat cavorting in somersaults]
...we had a real Giles Goatboy as the hero in Titanic?
Two words which by etymology refer figuratively to a small horse:
chevalet - the bridge of a stringed instrument
[from French; literally "little horse"]
bidet – this familiar word comes from the French for a small horse or pony; that is, one easily straddled
That makes so much sense for the origin of "bidet." Did "Chevrolet" come from "chevalet."
[This message was edited by Kalleh on Mon Feb 9th, 2004 at 11:17.]
Some words about worthless or broken-down horses:
harridan - a scolding, vicious old woman
[probably from F haridelle, a gaunt woman, a worn-out horse, a nag]
crock - slang: something decrepit and worn out; also, to make weak or disabled ("crock up")
[Earlier, old ewe that past child-bearing; Norw. krake, sickly animal, and M. Dutch kraecke, broken-down horse]
More of this sort to come.
I found that, in fact, Chevrolets were named after Louis Chevrolet, with no relation to "chevalet."
It's an interesting story. Why do I think that in this day and age Louis would have filed a major lawsuit for Durant continuing to use his name, even after Chevrolet left the company?
caparison - ornamental trappings for a horse; more generally, richly ornamented clothing; finery. verb: to outfit in such trappings or clothing
Typically used for horses and other animals, but can be applied to people and things.
That book is an unending source of delight! Y'all should try it!
My calendar of Forgotten English words had a great one last week: CHIROLOGY - The art of conversing with the hands and fingers.
It seems Samuel Pepys had a little chirology going with a woman accompanying him and his wife (!) to the theatre... very, very clever. Ahh, the joys of holding hands in a carriage in London.
More words from broken-down horses:
spavined – 1. old and decrepit; over-the-hill; marked by damage, deterioration, or ruin: a junkyard full of spavined vehicles 2. (of a horse) afflicted with spavin, a swelling of the hock (ankle)
tacky – 1. in neglected disrepair: a tacky old cabin in the woods 2. in bad taste or offensive: tacky clothes; a tacky remark [from tackey, an inferior horse]
Note: to nag (scold, complain, or find fault constantly; noun: a person who does so) and a nag (a horse, especially one old or worn-out) appear to come from two different roots.
Tack means (amongst other things) a horse's gear; its saddle and bridle. Is there any connection with tackey? Webster's says that tackey is from Southern U.S. Has anyone heard it used? I've certainly never come across it.
The OED Online defines tacky (also tackey or tackie) as both a noun and an adjective, and note that it originated in the U.S. As a noun, it means "a degenerate ‘weedy’ horse" (1800)or "a poor white of the Southern States from Virginia to Georgia" (1889).
As an adjective, it means "dowdy, shabby; in poor taste, cheap, vulgar". (1862)
I've never heard it used as a noun before, but often as an adjective. I've also heard it frequently with its other definition: "slightly sticky or adhesive: said of gum, glue, or varnish nearly dry" (OED Online, earliest quote 1788).
M-W says that tacky in the "poor taste" sense comes from "tacky a low class person" while tacky meaning "somewhat sticky to the touch" or "characterized by tack", comes from tack, "to join in a slight or hasty manner", from "Middle English takken, from tak".
By the way, the OED Online credits Malvina Reynolds for coining the term ticky-tacky in 1962. While traveling on a California freeway with her husband in 1961, she noticed a string of houses that all looked pretty much alike, and that inspired her to write "Little Boxes". (I've heard she wrote it in 19 minutes.) Pete Seeger sang it at Carnegie Hall in 1963.
[This message was edited by tinman on Sun Feb 15th, 2004 at 23:00.]
We began this theme with a word (capriole) from a horse's leap.
Here are several more leaping-horse words.
gambol – to dance and skip about in play; to frolic.
[French gambade horse's jump, ultimately from L. Latin gamba hock of a horse, leg and from G kampe a joint or bend]
gambado – a capering, leaping or gamboling movement (also, a low leap of a horse in which all four feet leave the ground)
Some sources attribute gamble to the root that gave us gambol and gambado (the notion of frolic leading to that of financial speculation). But this view is not universal.
desultory – jumping from one subject to another, without order or rational connection; disconnected (desultory thoughts; a desultory speech; desultory shopping)
[lit. noun meaning "a circus rider who jumps from one galloping horse to another" from de- down + salire to jump, leap]
Why not more words?
Mount, charger, cob, and nag.
All the same meaning:
A solid-hoofed plant-eating domesticated mammal with a flowing mane and tail, used for riding, racing, and to carry and pull loads.
Welcome Jasmine. This particular forum is one where wordcrafter posts words on a particular theme for a week. At the end of the week the theme changes, hence the way that there are no more words about horses.
Of course wordcrafter is a nice guy and, given that this particular theme was four years ago, if you ask him there's every chance that he might do another theme of more words related to horses.
"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
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Hello Jasmine, welcome to the board.
I can only add:
I know two things about the horse
And one of them is rather course.
Naomi Royde-Smith (attrib.)
Nice to see you posting here, Jasmine. Please see your private messages for a proper welcome.
The word a day is posted, not only because we have a love of words, but also to prompt further discussion. So feel free to teach us what you know!