Thursday 8 July 2010

Concealed Farts

Our word partridge comes from the Old French pertis which comes from the Latin perdicem which comes from the Greek perdix which comes from the Greek verb perdesthai which means fart, because that's what a partridge sounds like when it flies. The low, loud beating of the wings sounds like the clapping of the buttocks when the inner gale is liberated.

Petard, which is a kind of explosive, comes from the French péter meaning fart, for reasons much too obvious to state. Incidentally, it was Hamlet who originally said:

Tis the sport to have the engineer hoist with his own petard.

Hoist here simply means raised or blown sky high. Hamlet is talking about how he plans to kill Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (who then become dead).

Pumpernickel (bread) was (for some reason unrelated to good marketing) originally just a German insult. Nickel meant devil and pumpern meant... I assume, dear and flatulent reader, that you get the picture. So it's devilfart bread.

All of which carminative fun leaves you with what Milton called "a singèd bottom all involved with stench and smoke."

The Inky Fool in his Sunday Best


  1. The word "pump" means "fart" in English too, or at least some varieties of colloquial English...I dimly remember my cousins making noisy jokes about pumpernickel when we were children. Carminative is such a pretty word, though; it's a shame it means something so un-pretty.

  2. Finally, the true meaning of Hamlet's phrase. I am grateful to you, Dogberry.

  3. The Antipodean, who has just realised that she's probably been conflating 'petard' and 'pennant' all these years because she misunderstood the use of hoist in this phrase,9 July 2010 at 11:57

    One of my favourite things is explaining to people how often Shakespeare is being funny and/or crude (There's a double meaning in that!), but I didn't know that one!