The simple epiphanies are the most mind-blowing. I was twelve-years-old and reading a fantasy novel when it dawned on me that “breakfast” is just an amalgam of “break” and “fast,” and that when you wake up in the morning, and eat for the first time, you’re breaking the fast from the night before. Of course, thanks to Game of Thrones, everyone watches fantasy novels on TV now, and “break your fast” has been said so many times that the once esoteric etymology has wiggled its way out amongst the memes and LOLs, but I guess that’s a good thing because something lost has been found.
Personally, I’m the worst sort of etymologist because I don’t fact-check any of my claims. I’ll look at a word and think about it and repeat it in my head ad nauseum until it doesn’t even feel like a word anymore, and I’ll try to figure out where it came from. You know, like is it a word from a different language? Did we steal it from the Germans like we did with doppelganger? Is it Latin? Is it just a weird mashup of prefixes and suffixes? Or is it one of those awesome two-forgotten-words-put-together words like “breakfast.”
Because those are my favorite.
Think about “threshold.” A long time ago (back when words were made), people would throw straw all over their floors. It’d make easy the mucking out of a house, just like it does for a stall. But every time someone would walk out, a little straw would go with them. Like toilet paper, I guess, but in the renaissance. So builders added to their houses a raised board in the bottom of their doorframes, to hold in the straw, or “thresh,” as they called it. I was thirteen when I figured that one out, and Game of Thrones hasn’t spoiled it yet.
I’m a freelance writer now. It’s a strange new nametag to wear in conversations with strangers, but I keep a straight face most of the time. And this morning, I pictured a knight on the field, alone and masterless, like some sort of European Ronin, and I figured it out. I have a lance, these words of mine, but I don’t have an employer. I have no fiefdom to marshal, no kingdom to ply. My lance is free just as I am a freelance writer–George R.R. Martin would’ve used the word “sellsword,” but “sellsword writer” sounds a little superfluous–and the click felt wonderful when it all fell into place.
I just wanted to write something quick and dirty, straight into this site from whichever thought came first, and I wanted to thank you all for reading still. Those past fifty-thousand scholastic entries must’ve been boring, but the fall semester is here and these classes will live in a bubble elsewhere on this laptop. You made it through. And in December, I’ll graduate, and we’ll talk about something else.