Monday, July 24, 2017

Word of the Week - Hoot



So as I was writing last week, trying to finish up the first draft of An Hour Unspent, book 3 in the Shadows Over England Series, I ran into a silly problem.

I was trying to have someone describe the hero's little brother. He's a bit of a prankster, but only in an endearing way. He pushes the boundaries, but with such charm that you can't help but love him for his spirit. He always has a jest ready, but he's also a dependable sort of chap.

So how do you sum that up in a word or two??

My first thought was to call him a hoot--in modern slang, that would indicate that he's always good for a laugh, but wouldn't carry any negative connotations. But upon looking it up, I soon realized that wouldn't work. Too new. But interesting nonetheless, so you get the lesson. ;-)

Hoot started its career in English as a verb from the mid-15th century, likely a variant of Old English huten--literally meaning "to shout or call out." The first noun form was said shout, from about a hundred years later. The idea of "a laugh or something funny" unfortunately didn't come along until 1942...so my 1915 lieutenant certainly couldn't use it.

But what I found quite interesting indeed is the meaning of "small amount" that we see in the phrase "I don't give a hoot." This was first recorded in 1891, but it's actually a shortening of the form used from 1839 on, "I don't give a hooter." So where did that come from? Etymologists think it's a corruption of iota, so changed because of some American accents. Interesting, eh?

Hope everyone has a great week, and thanks for bearing with me as I put the blog on pause while I finished up my edits of A Song Unheard and the draft of An Hour Unspent!

2 comments:

  1. You are truly a "hoot" Roseanna! You brighten my day!

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  2. Brenda AndrezeywskiAugust 14, 2017 at 4:03 PM

    That was a HOOT learning about the different words and meanings!

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