Monday, December 26, 2016

Flower Frog

Alexandra Arens asked why the ornamental flower holder placed at the bottom of a vase is called a frog. There is some uncertainty. It seems to be a slang term from the early 20th century, and many sources speculate that just like a frog, the device sits in water – hence, the name. The Oxford English Dictionary lists it as the 7th meaning under the amphibian Rana temporaria, so that makes some sense.

But I notice that the same source has another meaning for frog, defining it as “an attachment to the waist belt in which a person carries a sword or a hatchet.” By analogy, a flower would likewise be placed in a holder. So that’s also a possibility for the origin of the term.

That aside, frog is a very versatile word with many meanings, some of them unconnected to each other though identical in spelling. Aside from the flower holder, the OED includes these meanings under frog n.1:

·      Music (orig. U.S.). The block or device at the lower end of a bow for a violin, cello, etc., to which the bow hairs are fixed, now usually movable to allow the tension of the hairs to be adjusted.
·      Brickmaking. A rectangular recess on one or both faces of a brick which provides a key for the mortar.
·      A derogatory name for a person of Dutch or French descent.
·      An irritation in the throat causing hoarseness.

Frog n. 2 is defined as an elastic V-shaped pad of soft horn in the middle of the sole of a horse's hoof, which usually makes contact with the ground and helps to absorb impacts.

Frog n. 3  is an ornamental fastening originally used on military dress coats or cloaks, consisting of a spindle-shaped button and, on the opposite side of the garment, a loop through which this fits.

Frog n. 4  is a grooved metal plate for guiding the wheels of a railway vehicle at a junction where one railway track crosses another.

Flower frogs come in many shapes and sizes, some of them quite decorative, making them collectors’ items. Search the image box in google© with flower frog, and you’ll see many examples.

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