Issue 186, page 4

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From Judith Baron:

I searched your site for the derivation of the term piggy bank. Your March 23, 2003 entry (Issue 124) comports with other material I've read on that term. I remember that one source (I don't remember which) suggested that at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution small safes were made with leftover slag (or pig iron) from English ironworks, and the eponymous form followed the function. It also seems to me that having a small bank in the shape of a pig suggests the process of fattening up your savings, as a farmer must fatten pigs for eventual sale, and profit. It follows the same line of reasoning as those little milk pitchers that are shaped like cows, and honey pots shaped like bees or bears.

Your website is a great help in explaining English idioms to my ESL students, and it's entertaining as well.  Thanks very much.

And thank you for letting us know your thoughts about piggy banks and TOWFI.

From Daniel H. Schechner:

Regarding the derivation of loo, Webster's cites the French lieux (places), short for lieux d'aisances (literally, places of conveniences). I, however, prefer an unsupported theory that the true source is the French l'eau (water), as in water closet (or W.C.). This interpretation, then, leads to Waterloo as a sort of bilingual double-speak, a cut above boringly repetitive place names such as Walla Walla, Bora Bora, or Pago Pago. Sometimes the truth simply isn't colorful enough (gasp!).

All more believable than the suggested derivation that we first encountered (gardy loo, a corruption of French gardez l'eau or "watch out for the water", supposedly called out by women dumping chamber pots from second-story windows).  John Ayto thinks the lieux d'aisances explanation is the most believable, too.

From Luke McElligott:

I abhor the use of beck and call when it should be written beckon call, as in the call was beckoning....  Please help me to put this to rights.

Oops, Luke, actually, the phrase is beck and call and always has been.  Beck is the same word as beckon, though, so you're on the right track.  To be at one's beck and call is to respond when he beckons you and/or calls you.  It dates from the mid-19th century.

From Albert Grumich:

My name is Albert Grumich and my site is about dictionaries and contains links, news, groups and books. Here is the url:

Thanks, Albert.  Looks like there could be some interesting listings at your site.


Or read last week's issue to see what all of these people are talking about!

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Last Updated 01/08/06 01:51 PM