Monday, December 12, 2016

Word of the Week - Pet

Because my blog is sadly lacking in cat pictures, which we all know is the primary purpose of the internet...


We have two cats in our family; Lilly is without question our daughter's, and Ivy is more apt to hang out with the rest of us. She's especially fond of sitting on my stomach while I'm watching TV and getting as close to my face as I'll let her--which isn't all that close, or my eyes get pretty itchy. ;-) The other night as my husband was petting her, he said, "Okay, so, which came first? Pet the noun, or pet the verb?" (Yes, our whole family asks these kinds of questions, LOL.)

I wasn't sure, but suspected that the noun came first. Which indeed it did.

The origins of the word are a bit misty. An exact date of its first use isn't known, but it was likely in the 1400s or perhaps earlier. We do know it was used almost exclusively in Scotland and northern England until the mid 1700s. The first recorded instance that could be found, it's actually referring to an indulged child (around 1500), though etymologists suspect "tamed animal" is still the primary meaning back then.

Both actually derive from the adjective petty, which just means "small," from French petit. (It wasn't originally a disparaging word, though had taken on meanings of "of little importance" and "small-minded" by the later 1500s.)

As for the verb to pet, that's surprisingly new! Didn't come into use until about 1818 in the sense we think of most, "to stroke." From the 1620s until then, it was a verb, but it meant "to treat as a pet."

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

1 comment:

  1. You do give us the most interesting information, Roseanna! Thank you. :-)

    ReplyDelete