A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to author Roby Sweet. Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Words with Webster (Purr), Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun features for you this Friday. First up is Words with Webster, in which he tells us things we never knew about a very common word. This is followed by Friendly Fill-Ins.

Words with Webster

Words with Webster badge

Hi, everyone! I’m Real Cat Webster, here to welcome you to Words with Me. Today’s word is “purr.” You might think that this is a really obvious cat word, and everyone already knows all about it. But do they really? Let’s find out!

A purr, according to my favorite dictionary (Merriam-Webster’s), is “a low vibratory murmur of a cat that appears to indicate contentment or pleasure and is believed to result from the streaming of air over the false vocal cords.” Well, okay, but we all already knew that, pretty much. So I checked with the Oxford English Dictionary and found out that the word purr came to be used for that rumbly sound cats make because, well, that’s sort of what it sounds like. It doesn’t come from Latin or Greek or anything (but we wonder what Greeks and Romans called that sound, if they called it anything; scholars, please weigh in). 

“Purr,” in the sense of that rumbly sound, was first used in print way back in the 1600s by none other than William Shakespeare (in All’s Well That Ends Well, published in 1623 but written earlier):
Heere is a purre of Fortunes sir, or of Fortunes Cat.

“Purr” also shows up in Don Quixote (Cervantes, 1620):
But the Cat, careless of these threats, purred, and held fast.

And by the way, “purr” was used even earlier (14th century) to mean a fire poker; a thrust, stab, or kick; or a state of agitation. None of this had anything to do with cats though (we hope). Later, beginning in the 16th century, “purr” also came to refer to a kind of small pig that used to live feral on the Isle of Man. This also has nothing to do with cats. Other meanings for “purr” that you might not know about are an edible mollusk; to stuff or fill something; and a call used to attract pigs or turkeys.

You can find out a lot about purring (the cat kind) from this BrainStuff video:


Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-Ins badgeAnd now it’s time for Friendly Fill-Ins, from 15andmeowing and McGuffy’s Reader. They are a fun way to learn a little bit about the authors of the blogs you read. The first two questions, answered by Real Cat Paisley this week, are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered by old SoLT, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
1. A law I would like to see passed is an anti-dog ordinance.

2. My favorite card game is not poker, because I saw in a painting once that dogs play poker.

"A Waterloo," 1906, Cassius Marcellus Coolidge. One of a series of paintings depicting dogs playing poker. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Old SoLT’s answers:
3. With Summer unofficially here, life continues as normal, only a little hotter.


4. A favourite Summer memory is dividing and repotting hostas for hours on end. The landscaper I worked for grew a lot of hostas, and I always loved working with them.

7 comments:

  1. I love purrs, that is the best sound ever. Thank you for participating in the fill-ins, great answers. I am beginning to think you don't like dogs Paisley :) Hostas are pretty. My hubby has been dividing up bee balm the same way lately, they really multiply. Have a nice weekend!

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  2. Wow ... I had no idea "purr" could be used so many different ways! There's no better sound in the world though :)

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  3. Our vet has that poker game on their wall. Ha! Stella and Kenzie said that No Dogs is a bad law. Chloe Jo agrees. She loves her dog (Stella)! I love Hostas, too. When they bloom, they attract hummingbird moths! HUGS!

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  4. Dividing plants is a lot of fun and watching them successfully take root is even more fun! I did that with the irises back home. We started off with one plant that was gifted to us and by the time we sold that house a few years later, I had enough to cover the whole front and one side of the house. It was great!

    I wish it was only going to be a *little* hotter here than it has been, but I know we're in for a whole lot hotter. I hope that you have a perfect summer.

    Have a blessed weekend!

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  5. I didn't know "purr" had such a long history with so many meetings! I do know it's one of the most beautiful sounds in the world :)

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  6. That is a classic picture. I think it should be required by law that every home should have on of those and a velvet Elvis. Have a great week.

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  7. Oh, I could have used your help when we first moved to our house. We had tons of hostas I had to move - those plants have some serious roots and it was hard work! You probably learned a trick to make it easier. :)

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