Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Upholding the curtains

I'm taking a break from one of my quizzes (hooray for untimed, open-book quizzes!) and browsing through the class forums. We've been discussing morphology, and how some words don't really relate to their meanings once you remove their affixes. One person brought up some words like 'downhearted'. Our text says there's no other relation to 'hearted' (even Firefox spellchecker agrees), but this student came up with 'kindhearted'. I was thinking about 'hearten', as in gaining courage or morale from something.

Another one was 'upholster'. The etymology is quite fun, according to Dictionary.com, it came from a 19th century Americanism 'upholsterer', the profession name. And that came from a 17th century term where a person was employed to install furnishings, or to literally 'up-hold' the curtains.

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