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, September 8, 2017

Words with Webster: Paw, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun Friday features for you today. First up is Real Cat Webster, who has a word that really gives us cats something to stand on. After that, it’s on to Friendly Fill-Ins!

Words with Webster

Words with Webster
Hi, all! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “paw.” This is another one of those words that we all know, but I was kind of surprised by some of its earliest uses. To explore this word, first I looked in my favorite dictionary, Merriam-Webster, which said that a paw is “the foot of a quadruped (as the lion, dog, or cat) having claws; broadly :  the foot of an animal.”

Next I went to the Oxford English Dictionary, which said that a paw is “the foot of an animal having claws and pads. Also: the hand of a monkey or ape.” So far so good, but that is actually the second definition in the OED. The first is this: “the foot or claw of a bird; the foot or claw of a dragon. Now rare.”

The foot of a bird or dragon? Really??? (This is the part that surprised me, in case you can’t tell.)

The earliest written occurrence of “paw” is from about 1330:
To dragouns þer layen..Þat on was rede so þe fer..Euerich powe a span long. (Osgar Duncan Macrae-Gibson, Of Arthour and of Merlin)
Real Cat Webster's paw.
Cute, right?
Yeah, I didn’t understand that either. So I went on to the more familiar meaning, which appeared about 1440 (though from a work that may have been composed around 1350):
So come a lyonne..And in hir pawes scho hent the childe. (Sir Isumbras)
At least now we have a lion. I understand that.

“Paw” was borrowed from the Old French “powe” or “poe,” meaning “paw, fist.” Further etymology is uncertain, says the OED, but the word could have its ultimate roots in a pre-Roman and pre-Celtic language.

Next time you think about how cute your cat’s paws are, think about how they are kind of related to dragons’ feet!

Fierce dragon
Do your cat's paws resemble this dragon's, um, paws ?
Image via AdobeStock.

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-Ins
And 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. September bucket list: 1) eat, 2) nap, 3) scare dog. Hey, I’m finished!

2. If I came with a warning label, it would say “Prone to pouncing without warning”!

Old SoLT's answers:
3. Truth be told, I have no interest in Game of Thrones, and I am sick of hearing about it (but I loved the first two books, so go figure).

4. I would rather work on my own books and blog than do my “job job.”


  1. I would never have thought of birdy feet as paws. Dragons' feet either, for that matter. How very interesting!

    RCP, you and our Angel Xerxes sound a lot of like. We got surprise pounces from him, too. :)

    I think, if I had a "job job", I would rather be blogging and writing my own books instead, too!

    Have a blessed weekend. :)

  2. I am having fun watching the minions pounce on everything. They scare themselves and each other regularly! Good answers! Hugs!

  3. "the foot or claw of a dragon. Now rare.”

    Yep, I haven't had a dragon at my feeders in years.

  4. Always thought I'd get a dragon tattoo, but a cutesy, sweet dragon not a 'eat humans with ketchup' kind of one. When I was a kid, we use to call hands 'meathooks', as in, "get your meathooks off of me!" and usually yelled at a sibling who was rough-housing.

  5. Cats' paws are much cuter than any dragon's paws. Thank you both for your fill-in answers, I enjoyed them. Glad you already completed you September list Paisley :) I have never seen or read Game of Thrones. Have a nice weekend!

  6. An adorable paw! Is Webster a polydactyl?! Or is that something white behind his paw?
    Sounds like paw is an amalgamation of "claw" and "pad?"

  7. Prone to pouncing without warning sounds like our Angel Xerxes. He was a real wild kitty.

  8. Isn't it funny how so many common words have such a history? Totally agree with you about Game of Thrones. I just don't get the fascination. And I'd much rather write and blog than my regular job, even though I enjoy my day job and it pays much better LOL

  9. It's probably best not to tell cats they are compared to dragons...it might go to their heads. :)
    Oh, I would much rather work on my blog, and maybe start a book, than do my job job either! Perhaps we should start playing the lottery? :)
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets