Thursday, October 30, 2008

Crackpot


Carol from Traverse City, Michigan, asked about the word crackpot.

Crackpot shows up in 1883 in Broadside Ballad (Farmer): “My aunty knew lots, and called them crack-pots.” Earlier, in the 16th century, the term in vogue for an impaired intellect was crack-brain.

The immediate analogy is to a cooking or storage vessel that has been cracked, and thus compromised as a useful tool. The use of pot wasn’t much of a reach. At one point in history--starting around the early part of the 15th century--the human skull was referred to as “the pot of the head.” In Latin, that was olla capitis, and that term appeared in medical dictionaries and textbooks as a synonym for cranium.


Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. There is no archive.


Write to Mike with comments or questions:
wordmallATaol.com
(substitute @ for AT above)


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
http://arbutuspress.com/store_ling.html
or at Amazon.com
Coming soon: More Words to the Wise


Visit the Senior Corner at http://seniors.tcnet.org

Labels:

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Dona Sheehan's prints