Sunday, January 29, 2017


Matthew from Cadillac asked if the horns of a goat, say, and the horns played in an orchestra are connected etymologically. The short answer is yes.

The English word derived from various Germanic and Scandinavian words. In turn, they owed their existence to the Latin cornu, horn. Originally, the word designated a bony appendage on the head of certain mammals.

It then branched out to mean something shaped like an animal’s horn. That applied to the musical instrument (which early on was constructed from an animal’s horn) and to certain containers; think horn of plenty, which is technically called a cornucopia. That makes the Latin origin quite obvious.

The word branched out into other meanings, too. It was used as a biblical symbol of strength, might, and power. It designates the device attached to motor vehicles that is sounded as a warning signal. It is the name of the high pommel of a saddle, and in colloquial use, it was a telephone. In logic, it is each of the alternatives of a dilemma.

In the 18th century, it began to be used to name an erection. That explains the word horny, and it all comes together in horny as a goat.

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Dona Sheehan's prints