Saturday, January 03, 2015
Greg from Thompsonville, Michigan, encountered the word warren a couple of times in the last month. The first instance occurred in an email from a friend who had visited Nepal. He wrote, “Kathmandu was a loud and busy tourist city . . . a warren of hotels, shops and restaurants.”
The second instance came up in a book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken – A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption: “Louie curled up under paper sheets. There were dozens of men in cells near him, but no one made a sound. Phil was in a cell far down the hall, and for the first time in months, Louie wasn’t near him. In this warren of captive men, he was alone.”
Originally, warren was an Anglo-Norman word for a game park. That was in 1377. It seems to have been derived from a Germanic verb that meant to guard or protect.
About a century later, it was applied specifically to a piece of land devoted to raising rabbits – hence, a rabbit-warren. By 1607, it was a collection or assemblage of small animals of any species.
By the middle of the 17th century, it had made the leap to a building or settlement that was like a rabbit-warren, but inhabited by humans who were poor. It was also applied to office or living space characterized by many passages and small rooms.
Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.