Noreen came across the phrase hunger pangs, and wondered what the word pang means and where it came from.
Pang is a variant of pain; if you have hunger pangs, the hunger is so acute that you feel distress. Originally, it referred to a shooting pain, especially the kind associated with childbirth. By the 16th century, the meaning had broadened to include mental anguish or emotional pain.
The origin of the word is a bit mysterious. The OED says that perhaps it came from prong, urgent distress or anguish. That form may have come from German/Dutch cognates that referred to distress, hardship, or torture. In turn, prong was related to an instrument with pointed tines. A pitchfork would be a good example.
SIDEBAR: If you live in the GT region and are over 50, get a team of 3 together for this year's Senior Spelling Bee. Practice rounds at TADL Wed. April 25 & Thurs. April 26 at noon. Main event Friday, May 4th, 1 p.m., at the Gilbert Lodge on Twin Lakes. Call the TC Senior Center for details at 231-922-4911.
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