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, December 15, 2017

Words with Webster: Fur, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

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

Words with WebsterWords with Webster

Hi, everybody! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “fur.” I picked this word because it got really cold at our house this week, and boy was I glad for my fur coat! So of course, first I went to my favorite dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s, which said that fur is “the fine soft thick hairy covering or coat of a mammal usually consisting of a double coating of hair that includes a layer of comparatively short soft curly barbed hairs next to the skin protected by longer smoother stiffer hairs that grow up through these.” That sounded a little more complicated than I was expecting, but I guess fur is not as simple as I thought.

Anyway, next I went to the Oxford English Dictionary, which defined fur like this: “The short, fine, soft hair of certain animals (as the sable, ermine, beaver, otter, bear, etc.) growing thick upon the skin, and distinguished from the ordinary hair, which is longer and coarser.” In this sense, “fur” has been in use since about 1430, when it showed up in a poem by John Lydgate:

The shepe…berythe furres blake and whyte. (“Horse, Goose & Sheep,” in Polit. Relig. & Love Poems)

I even found a 1608 Shakespeare quote for “fur”:

This night wherin…The Lyon, and the belly-pinched Wolfe Keepe their furre dry. (King Lear viii. 13)

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “fur” apparently came from the Old French forrer, meaning “to line, envelop, encase.” The word seems to have first appeared in English around 1300 as a verb that meant to line a garment (with fur). The Etymology Dictionary traces the word back through Proto-Germanic fodram (“sheath”) to the Proto-Indo-European root pa- (“to feed, protect”). And that might be from about 5,500 years ago.

That is a long journey for one little word!

An orange tabby cat's fur_Adobe Stock

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-InsAnd 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. Snow is pretty, but it makes all the people in my house complain a lot. They should be like me and just take a nap with it snows.

2. I hope Mommy’s getting me something great for Christmas, because I certainly deserve it!

Old SoLT’s answers:
3. One holiday memory that I cherish is running downstairs early one Christmas morning (extremely early—I think it was just barely past midnight) and finding my very first bicycle next to the tree. So of course I jumped right on it (not knowing how to ride yet) and immediately fell over into the tree. Still not sure how I managed to not knock the tree down!

4. I always thought that Santa was totally magical. How else could he get in and out of all those houses without getting caught?


  1. Oh, I love your answers here. Napping during a snow makes sense, especially when you need your energy to remove the snow! Great memory! I could envision it! Your answer to Santa goes with mine. Santa is magical! I hope he is good to you! Hugs!

  2. Paisley, I hope you get lots of great stuff for Christmas, because I'm sure you deserve it.

  3. Fur rhymes with purr...and that's what it's all about, at least kitty-wise!

  4. I don't think I completely appreciated "fur" until Bear had surgery to remove the tumor and they shaved about 1/4 of his body. In one strand of his fur is no less than 6 colors! Shades of brown, black, gray, white ... WOW.
    We hope you get all you desire Miss Paisley :)

  5. Thank you for the etymology lesson :) I did not know anything about the word, fur. And thank you both for participating in the fill-ins, great answers. That is a sweet memory of Christmas morning. And I agree, your mom should get you a great Christmas gift. Have a nice weekend!

  6. We're big fans of fur at our house too! Paisley, you do deserve something extra special, and my human gripes about the snow too even though she loves it. --Mudpie

  7. Great Fill ins! And Mommy is not looking forward to having the house of fur that will happen when Cinnamon arrives! She is a Heeler and she CONSTANTLY sheds!
    Knowing where the word comes from...makes it a little more bearable