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. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Words with Webster: Whisker, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun features for you this Friday. First up is Words with Webster, in which he tells us about something that is common to cats. This is followed by Friendly Fill-Ins.

Words with Webster

Words with Webster badge
Hi, all! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “whisker.” I know, we all know what whiskers are, right? They’re those “long projecting hairs or bristles growing near the mouth of an animal (as a cat or bird).”[1] But have you ever wondered when people started calling whiskers, whiskers? Probably not, but I’m still going to tell you!

First off, the Oxford English Dictionary says that the first known use of the word in writing was in about 1425, but it didn’t mean an animal whisker yet. It meant something like a fan or a brush (something that whisks). Our meaning for “whisker” came about in 1678, in the London Gazette. It's about a horse though:
A light gray Gelding,..with an iron mark of a G. on the near Buttock, and two whiskers on the upper lip.

In 1748 came a mention of a cat’s whisker:
A whisker first and then a claw.

And finally, Thomas Henry Huxley wrote an interesting thing about cats’ whiskers in 1881:
The “whiskers” of cats owe their functional importance to the abundant supply of nerves to the follicles in which their bases are lodged.
Close up of a cat's whiskers

To learn more about whiskers, check out when I did the word "vibrissa" last year.

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 old SoLT this week, are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered by Real Cat Paisley, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Old SoLT’s answers:

1. My favorite line from a film is “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” From Jaws, of course.

2. Other than blogs, a website I visit often is … well, I am on Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary all day while I’m working, and usually The Chicago Manual of Style online too. Other than that, Facebook is probably the site I’m on the most…looking at cute animals!

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:

3. When I feel down, I meow a whole bunch until Mommy plays with me or cuddles me.

4. If I could drive a car (which I’m pretty sure I could do, if I could just reach Mommy’s keys!), I would...um, actually I don't know what I would do, but I bet it would be fun!

And now, please enjoy this clip from Jaws. You're gonna need a bigger boat!

[1] Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.


  1. That was interesting about the whiskers. I am sure you could drive a car, after all Toonces did.

  2. Very interesting facts about whiskers. Thank you for these great fill-in answers from you both. Jaws is a classic :) And Paisley, I hope you don't have to still be wearing that kitty torture system. I am glad your Mommy plays with you when you meow. Have a nice weekend! XO

  3. I'm fascinated by whiskers. And there are the ones on the back of kitties' front legs too. Bear wants Paisley to know that if she drives, she should stop by. Because gorgeous TORTIE!!!!

    1. I will just enter "Bear" into the GPS, and it will take her right to him!

  4. Patty O'Malley's whiskers start out black, then become white! I love those whiskers! Actually, they are technically called vibrissae. Ahh, "Jaws"...what a movie!

    1. Thank you! I knew Webster had done something about whiskers before, but for the life of me I could not remember the word. Vibrissae! Now I can link to the earlier post. That's cool about Patty O'Malley's whiskers. :)

  5. Jaws is one of my favorite all-time movies! I forget how many times I've seen it, but it was a lot! :)

  6. Ooh...the day torties take over the roads, remind me to stay home! (On the other hand, the way lots of people drive they just might do a better job!) Fascinating info on whiskers. One of my mom's favorite stories is the day her younger sister (as a small child) clipped their cat's whiskers because they didn't fit in the window. Their mother (my grandmother) was understandably horrified.

  7. That was interesting about the word "whiskers". One of the first things I thought of was a whisk broom. I love the long whiskers on the kitties and the squirrels. :)

    You know, I have never seen the movie Jaws. I have the music go through my head sometimes, but I have never seen the movie.

    I enjoyed your post. Have a blessed weekend. :)

  8. If you could drive, you'd have a bunch of girlfurrends. You'd be pawtying every night. I did a post about whiskers awhile ago and couldn't believe all the whiskers we cats actually have. Great new info about when they were first called whiskers.

  9. Whiskers is a funny word! Thanks for the info. Great answers

  10. EXCELLENT! When I read Bill the fill-in, he immediately came up with that line! I love Jaws.
    All of your answers are good ones. You guys are cute. HUGS.