Word to your mother

I think words are fun, and phrases sometimes even more so. Here is a little history lesson on the word "noggin." (not the kids t.v. station, I didn't even realize there was such a thing, we say it all the time when the kids "bonk their noggins") Below is an excerpt from this article, if you also enjoy word-ology (etymology), check out The Word Detective. And if you know a good website that researches whole phrases, share with me!

"As slang for the human head (or any creature’s head, I suppose, although references to a cat’s noggin in classic literature seem rare), “noggin” is a wonderfully silly word. It’s difficult to imagine using “noggin” when genuine anger is involved, and “noggin” seems far more likely to crop up in an S.J. Perelman story or a Three Stooges episode than in a crime report.

Oddly enough, when “noggin” first appeared in English in the late 16th century, it had nothing to do, at least directly, with the human head. It mean “small cup or mug,” and by a hundred years later, had taken on the meaning of “a small drink of alcohol.” The roots of “noggin” are a mystery, but that second meaning of “small drink” may provide a clue. “Nog” at that time was a term used in England for a type of strong ale (or, by extension, any sort of alcoholic drink). It’s that “nog,” in fact, that underlies our modern “eggnog,” which combines (in its proper form) eggs, cream, sugar, nutmeg and rum. It’s possible that, since liquor affects primarily the head, that “noggin” was originally meant to refer to a head made woozy by drink. In any case, by the mid-18th century “noggin” had come into use as slang for the head, at first as a boxing term, but by the 19th century as a generalized slang term.

It is also possible that the transferred use of “noggin” from “cup” to “head” paralleled the evolution of “mug” in slang. In the 16th century, a “mug” was, as it is today, a heavy cup used for warm drinks. But in the 17th century it became common to decorate mugs with grotesque caricatures of human faces (such creations are still found in many curio and souvenir shops). By the early 18th century, “mug” had become popular slang for the actual human face, a sense we still use in “mugshot” (as well as in “to mug,” which originally referred to hitting a person in the face)."

No comments: