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, October 6, 2017

Words with Webster: Pyewacket, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun Friday features for you today. First up is Real Cat Webster, who has a witchy cat word to share. 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. Our word this week is “Pyewacket.” If you read our post yesterday on the excellent cat classic Bell, Book and Candle, you’ll know that I found our word from that movie. Pyewacket is not the most common name around, so I wondered where it came from. After some searching around, I found out that the word is not in any of the dictionaries I checked (not even the Oxford English Dictionary). But it shows up in a 1647 book called The Discovery of Witches. This is witch finder Matthew Hopkins’s account of, well, finding witches.

Pyewacket shows up pretty early in the book, in the answer to query 4. Here, Hopkins tells of an incident in March 1644. He says there were seven or eight witches living in the Essex town of Maningtree, where he lived. Every six weeks, on a Friday night, these and other witches would gather near his house and perform “severall solemne sacrifices there offered to the Devill.” One night, Hopkins heard one of these witches speaking to her imps, naming another witch. This other witch was captured and searched. They found out she had three teats, which I guess was a sign of being a witch. So the Justice ordered that she be kept awake for a few nights, to see if her familiars would come. Well, on the fourth night, she started calling her familiars by name, and the familiars appeared, witnessed by 10 people. The familiars she named were
1. Holt, who came in like a white kitling [a cat].
2. Jarmara, who came in like a fat Spaniel without any legs at all, she said she kept him fat, for she clapt her hand on her belly and said he suckt good blood from her body.
3. Vinegar Tom, who was like a long-legg'd Greyhound, with an head like an Oxe, with a long taile and broad eyes, who when this discoverer spoke to, and bade him goe to the place provided for him and his Angels, immediately transformed himselfe into the shape of a child of foure yeeres old without a head, and gave halfe a dozen turnes about the house, and vanished at the doore.
4. Sack and Sugar, like a black Rabbet.
5. Newes, like a Polcat. All these vanished away in a little time.
An accused witch names some imps
She also “confessed severall other Witches” and several imps. The imps’ names were “Elemanzer, Pyewacket, Peckin the Crown, Grizzel, Greedigut, &c. which no mortall could invent.”

Okay, personally, I think everyone was hallucinating from lack of sleep. But anyway, this is apparently where the name Pyewacket came from. Notice that Pyewacket was an imp, not a cat. The name is of course used for the cat in Bell, Book and Candle. It is also the title of a 1967 children’s book featuring a cat. And there is a Canadian horror movie called Pyewacket that is currently in release in Canada. It doesn’t seem to be about a cat though. Finally (and also not a cat), in 1957, an experimental air-to-air missile was codenamed “Pye Wacket.” That project was canceled in 1961.

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 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. October is the perfect time to break out the pumpkin spice coffee.

2. Halloween is the most fun holiday. I love seeing the little trick-or-treaters!

Real Cat Paisley's answers: 

3. Every October, I enjoy watching the leaves fall off the tree in our backyard. It makes it easier to see the little birds.

4. My experience with the supernatural world is entirely from the weird TV shows Mommy watches about ghosts and stuff.


  1. Oh, my word...that is quite a story you told! Good answers, too. I like seing the little kids dress u. They are adorable. The older kids, not so much anymore. I am not a horror fan. Paisley! The birds! Just look, okay? No horror there, either. *wink* And, Mommy, be careful with that supernatural stuff. HUGS!

  2. We loved your fill-ins this week, especially number 3!

  3. Very interesting word and explanation. Thank you both for these great fill-in answers. I love to see kids in costumes for Halloween. Good point about the birds being easier to see Paisley. Have a nice weekend!

  4. I love watching those weird ghost TV shows too! Actually, I record them on the DVR, then fast-forward through the boring stuff...hehehehe

  5. I was raised with the idea that you don't put anything in coffee. I have thought about getting some of those Coffeemate flavors to try. We drink cowboy coffee.

  6. We love Fridays at The Cuddlywumps! We always learn something about linguistics and we love SoLT's and Real Cat Paisley's answers.

  7. Oh my, that sounds like a hallucination to us too! Paisley, we watch lots of ghost shows too!

  8. Interesting info - a friend of my Mom's had an old Tom cat - ears all ragged, tail crooked, one eye - that she called Vinegar Tom !

  9. You sure know how to turn up some interesting stuff, Webster! You must be a great help to Old SoLT as a research assistant.