Monday, April 23, 2012

Word of the Week - Ice

An unexpected cold front and winter storm system is moving through the mid-atlantic--we're only getting rain here, but a few miles to the north and up a few mountains, they're supposed to get a foot of snow. Yikes! 

But of course, that means it's the perfect day to talk about the word ice. =) I had to look this one up yesterday to see when one of it's uses came into play, and I was a bit surprised by some of the entries.

Ice in its main meaning has been in the English language forever--no big surprise. As a verb, still speaking of to cover with ice, is from the 1400s. But the confectionery sense arrived in the early 1700s, along with the derivative icing.

Ice Age has been used since 1832, ice cube from 1904. But here's the one I was looking up--ice has been slang for "diamonds" since 1906. I would have thought it even later than that, but there you go. =) And the most shocking of all--break the ice. I was expecting this to be a more modern addition, but in actuality, the figurative "opening of any attempt" comes from the literal breaking of an ice to free up a passage and has been around since the 1580s! Who knew?

Hope everyone has a wonderful final week of April!

2 comments:

  1. SOOO fascinating - as always :) Also surprised by how old "break the ice" is.

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  2. Yes, I am too! I would have expected "break the ice" to be a much more modern phrase. I am suprised that "ice cube" came in use in 1904. I would have expected that one to be a bit older.
    Thanks for enlightening us!

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