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, May 11, 2018

Words with Webster: Cat, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

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

Words with Webster

Hi, everybody! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “cat.” Finally! I have been promising to do this word for a while now, and this week Mommy said we could do it. I don’t know why it’s taken so long. Ask Mommy.

Anyway, we all know what a cat is, right? Just in case, here is the definition from the Oxford English Dictionary:
A well-known carnivorous quadruped (Felis domesticus) which has long been domesticated, being kept to destroy mice, and as a house pet.
The word has been used in English since at least 800, when it appeared in this quote:
Fellus (felis), catte.  (Glossary [MS Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 144] H. Sweet: The Oldest English Texts [1885])
That wasn’t such a great quote, since the source name was longer than the actual quote, so I found this other one from about 500 years later (c. 1300):
By nighth als a cat hy seeth. (Kyng Alisaunder [c. 1400–1425], 5275)
Then I tried to figure out where the word “cat” came from. Get this: Nobody knows exactly where “cat” came from. This is what the OED says:
The name is common European of unknown origin: found in Latin and Greek in 1–4th cent., and in the modern languages generally, as far back as their records go.
The Online Etymology Dictionary says the Old English word “catt” entered English from West Germanic, and from the Proto-Germanic kattuz. Latin had the word catta (c. AD 75), and Byzantine Greek had katta (c. 350). The word may ultimately have Afro-Asiatic origins: The Nubian word for “cat” is kadis, and the Berber word is kadiska. We speculate that the Romans might have picked up a version of this word during their North African adventures and then spread it all around.

One other really interesting thing is how similar the different words for “cat” are across much of Europe. Look at this:
Spanish: gato
Italian: gatto
German: katze
Dutch: kat
Welsh: cath
Bulgarian: kotka
Russian: kot (masculine), koshka (feminine)
Finnish: katti
After this post, you should be able to say “cat” in about a dozen different languages!

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 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. I spend countless hours per day online. I basically have an online dictionary, style guide, and a search engine open all day while I’m working, and then there’s the research for blogging, and visiting friends’ blogs.… I’d guess I spend at least four hours a do actively doing things online, more if I’m working on a book that has tons of stuff to verify. Add in another hour for social media too!

2. When I go online, I use my desktop during the day and my iPad or sometimes a laptop in the evenings.

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
3. Mother’s Day I always think I should get something really neat for Mommy, but then I remember she already has me, and what could be better than that? Also, I don’t have any cash.

4. I wish I had some cash, or better, a credit card. Then I could go online and order some good food. This stuff Mommy got at the pet store last week is just barely edible!


  1. How interesting dat da word is so similar across a lot of languages!

  2. We bet the word for cat did come from Nubian origins. How interesting! What a great bit of research!

    Great fill-ins this week. We agree wholeheartedly with number 3!

  3. I love that you shared how to say "cat" in so many languages. I will definitely be keeping this list handy! And fantastic fill-ins! It sounds you get a lot of good use out of the internet. Having it as a resource for research has certainly made it one of the most significant inventions. Paisley, we think you are one of the best gifts your mother could ever have for Mother's Day. That being said, happy Mother's Day!

  4. I'd say the similarity in words for cat is pretty good evidence that the word came along with the animals themselves and the northern African origins seem confirmed by genetics.

  5. Thanks for the share. This was a interesting article on the origins of the word cat. Now we are going to have to learn how to pronounce it correctly in different languages. Have a great weekend.
    World of Animals

  6. And "chat" in French ! May we correct your German ? It's "Katze" with a big letter at the beginning. It's very interesting to see the similarities of the words for "cat" among different languages. Purrs

  7. The Swiss Cats are right. The German word for cat is "Katze." My father grew up in a tiny German community in Michigan - and one of my favorite memories of one of his brothers is seeing his face light up when he brought a farm cat inside. He'd talk to it using the word, Katze. He was this pretty stern, strong figure - but when he had a cat in his arms, he'd melt.

  8. Very interesting facts about the word cat. Thank you both for participating in the fill-ins, great answers. I spend a lot of time online daily too. And Paisley, you are correct, your Mom has everything she needs with you- and Webster. Have a nice weekend! XO

  9. Your Mommy doesn't need anything but you and your brother, Paisley! I hope she treats you to some better food :) The Swiss Cats beat me to mentioning "chat" in French!

  10. Ha ha, I'd like to let Sam order her own food too, since I can't seem to get it right!