The Real Cats: Webster in the house
Dear friends, today we are joined by Real Cat Webster, coming to us from the comfort of his house to share some interesting information with us. Webster, I understand you discovered something recently about a cat-related word?
Webster: Hey, Miss C. You won’t believe what I just found out. See, I was sitting here in my new house the other day, just resting and thinking—you know how you do. And I heard somebody say the word “kitty-corner,” and I thought, “Hey, why don’t I have one of those?” I’d like a corner for kitties.
Miss C: Well, kitty-corner is not exactly a thing…
Webster: Yeah, I know that now. It means “diagonal.” Did you know that?
Miss C: Of course I knew that. I have an extensive classical education.
Webster: Then I guess you also know what “kitty-corner” actually has to do with cats.
Miss C: Everything has everything to do with cats, so obviously “kitty-corner” is derived from cats’ penchant for sitting diagonally from one another...or something like that.
Webster: Wrong! I got out our word histories book and looked up “kitty-corner,” and it told me to look under “catercorner,” and when I did that, I found out it came from some French word from medieval times. Quatre was the word. It means “four,” and sometimes they spelled it “catre” or “cater.” Then English people started using it to mean the four in dice, and after that it meant “diagonal,” and then people started putting “corner” on the end of it. They started spelling it all different ways, too: catercorner, catty-corner, kitty-corner—even catawumpus.
Miss C: Humans are so careless with their spelling.
something to do
with dice and not
Webster: Tell me about it. And we’ve just done a whole post that actually says nothing about cats.
Miss C: Not true. Isn’t it obvious that people started saying “kitty-corner” because they thought “catercorner” had something to with kitty cats? We have done nothing but talk about cats this whole time.
Webster: You think so?
Miss C: Trust me. All human life is really about the cats.