Friday, March 25, 2011

Word Wonder - honey

1. A sweet, viscous substance made by bees from nectar gathered from flowers.  2. Anything resembling or suggestive of honey.  4. Sweet one; darling: a term of endearment. [from the Old English word hunig] -- Funk & Wagnall's Canadian College Dictionary

When it first occurred to me to explore the word "honey," it seemed a bit too obvious to bother with. However, I decided to check it out anyway. I found so much has been done with honey that I decided to write about it despite its (possibly) small impact on healing, relationships, and personal growth.

As a term of endearment, honey is sweet and simple. Although overuse can render it as meaningless as any other word, adding honey to daily utterances does often sweeten them up a bit. "Honey, will you do such and such for me?" adds a love-reminder to the basic request.

As a food, honey is so delicious, so nutritious, that it's a wonderful addition to many foods and beverages. It also feels excellent sliding down a sore, raspy throat. Though I've never tasted mead, I understand it's a tasty drink made from water and fermented honey.

Honey has had a far-reaching affect on language and daily life. Take a look at this  honey of a list from modern and ancient English:
  • honey-apple -- a fruit created in ancient times by grafting some kind of apple onto a quince stalk. The resulting fruit was used to make marmalade.
  • hinny -- a British form meaning "darling"
  • honey-tongued -- can be used as high praise, for one who uses words beautifully or as a sarcastic phrase for one whose words cannot be trusted
  • honeymoon -- After the wedding, life and the beloved are as sweet as honey. But a cynic might say this joy lasts only as long as one cycle of the moon's phases.
  • honey-bucket -- a receptacle used in a latrine
  • honey-bun or honey-bunch -- a term of endearment or a pretty girl
  • honey-do list -- a facetious name for the list of household chores a wife wants her husband to complete
  • honey wagon or cart -- the vehicle that empties latrines and carries away the contents
  • honey-pot -- in Australia, a way to jump into the water. This is the same as the North American cannonball jump.
  • honey-star -- a mistress!
  • honeydew melon -- a sweet melon
  • honeysuckle -- originally misnamed when ancient people thought that bees drew honey directly from this woody vine
  • honey thighs -- a term of endearment to a girl, since about 1945
So, I don't know. Maybe this post has made you more aware of how sweet your loved one is and will encourage you to say so to him or her. Maybe you'll just eat a bit more honey and be a little healthier as a result. I honestly just wanted to write about honey, even though it has no deep, profound meaning. That's it, that's all, sweetie.

Resource used for this post:
Thereby Hangs a Tale by Charles Earle Funk
Partridge's Concise Dictionary of Slang & Unconventional English, ed. by Paul Beale
A Word in Your Ear by Ivor Brown
Why Do We Say It? by Castle Books
Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson

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