March 19, 2010

Kitty (Catty?) Corner

Posted in history, musings tagged , , , , , , at 10:11 am by silversprung

As we’re describing our new neighborhood to friends and family, we keep using versions of the phrase “kitty-corner.” Frankly, it sounds kind of wussy.

I decided to look up the etymology (because that’s how dorky I really am.)

According to good, old Merriam-Webster, “kitty-corner” and “catty-corner” are interchangeable and the phrase is believed to be a derivation of “cater-corner”

“…from obsolete cater four + corner. Date: 1838″

That didn’t tell me much.

But the book …. (get ready for it)…

An analytic dictionary of English etymology: an introduction” By Anatoly Liberman (phew!), offered a more complete explanation. So “cater” was documented in 1577 as a word meaning “to place diagonally.” and some believe the current phrases are a version of “cater-cornered,” etc. etc. Basically, it has NOTHING to do with cats, if you were curious.

And if not, I’ve bored you to tears by now.

Tune in next week for some lively posts from a blogger who will be sleeping in a big kids bed once again. Hallelujah!

1 Comment »

  1. I always thought “catty corner” was cats notoriously hate anything stickingout from around a corner. Try a straw or pen just jutting out a tad – they go nuts!

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