Chris from Williamsburg
asked about the origin of neat’s foot oil. That’s something I used in my youth
to prep a new baseball glove.
Neat’s foot oil is made
by boiling the heel of a cow. Neat is a very old word, going back to Old
English, meaning a bovine animal, an ox or bullock, a cow or heifer. It is
related to a cluster of words in Old Frisian, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic, and
Germanic, all of which designated livestock.
Brittanica has this: “After the slaughterhouse scraps are rendered in water,
the oil is skimmed off, filtered through cloth, and subjected to two pressings,
the first yielding pure neat’s-foot oil, used to lubricate fine machinery, the
second, a lower grade, used in the textile and leather industries. The solid stearin
obtained in the second pressing is used in soap manufacture.”
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