Saturday, February 04, 2012

Horsing Around


Doug from Traverse City asked about two words, chivalry and cavort. I have to believe that he knew about their connection in advance and was simply testing me. That happens frequently during the show. Stump the Professor has become a popular game.

The connection between the two is the horse. Chivalry is a cognate of cavalry; it refers to horsemen. In the Middle Ages, it came to signify the code of conduct supposedly lived by knights. It was a blend of religious, social, and ethical elements.

Cavort originally meant to prance about like a horse. Applied to a human, it meant to frolic or to play around, generally in an aimless manner.

Another word connected to horse surprised me. It’s chagrin. Now it means disappointment resulting from being thwarted. Originally in English it was spelled shagreen, and it referred to the rough skin on the rump of a horse.


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

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