A large percentage of my musings end in question marks. Don’t yours? Tell me this is normal!
Consequently, I often find myself wondering the oddest things.
Recent wonderings include the following:
- Why is the word “egret” (a large white bird) found in the word “regret” (to rue or feel sorry about)?
- Which is really right – flier or flyer? Does it matter?
- Why is the word “neigh” in “neighbor”?
- And -- probably spawned in the wake of Hurricane Irene’s devastation -- is it possible to wreak anything besides havoc? What if you wanted to wreak something positive, like organization or joy? Would it still be wreaking?
Being a compulsive researcher – which I blame on my parents’ purchase of a set of encyclopedias when I was young and impressionable – I am often compelled to internet pursuits by questions like these. These are some of the answers I’ve found:
- British people prefer “flyer” for both the brochure and what flies. Americans prefer “flier” for both. According to this internet distinction, I am British. Good to know. Maybe this explains why my 15yo son sounds like Sean Connery when quoting most movies.
Oh, and yes, it matters whether you use “flier” or “flyer.” At least if you believe the founts of wisdom on the college web sites, it does. As an American (despite what the internet and my son's accent would have me to believe), I need to stick with the "i” and not the “y” unless I am using a trademarked name like “Radio Flyer.”
- “Neigh” in “neighbor” has no relation to the sound a horse makes. It comes from the root of “nigh,” meaning “near,” which is where your neighbor lives. Near you. Works for me!
- And “wreak” is an ancient English word with the same root as “wreck.” In that light, I believe you’d have to choose some other verb for dispensing happiness, orderliness, or any other positive results.
But I still have no idea why “egret” is found in “regret.” Do you?