Etymology -- the origin of words. Ever wonder where your favorite word came from? Or am I the only person on Earth with favorite words? Come on, admit it, you have favorite words and phrases -- so where did they come from? Who originated them? For example, the word catawampus or cattywampus: one of my favorites. Where the hell did that come from? According to the Merriem-Webster New Book of Word Histories: it is related to catercorner. And thumbing ahead a few pages brings us this explanation: It was the French -- AGAIN!! "The Medieval French were casual about spelling. They apparently took the Latin quattuor meaning "four" and spelled it quatre (as the modern French do) and catre. Then the English picked it up, bastardizing the spelling even further to cater. " The word still meant four, but to the limeys it mostly meant the four in dice and cards. The arrangement of the four dots on a die suggests an X. By the second half of the 16th century,a new verb appeared: "cater" which meant to move diagonally, which then morphed into an adverb meaning "diagonal" or "diagonally." Once it came over with the immigrants to the New World, it morphed even further into catercorner, and cater-cornered, then catty-corner amd kitty-corner. One of the most unusual variations is catawampus or cattywampus. This folk term has migrated the meaning from 'diagonal' to 'askew' through 'off-kilter' and is now often used by a select population to mean "discombobulated or out of joint."
Thus endeth the lesson and sorry if I bored you...
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