Thursday 9 June 2011

Browsing the Web

A web browser, if you think about it, is a peckish spider. Browse once meant a bud or leaf and so browsing is eating little bits of vegetation. In fact, the OED rather sternly points out that browsing and grazing are quite different things. Grazing is grassing and browsing is eating browse - leaves and buds and the like - which animals only usually do when there's no grass left.

The first recorded humans to browse were in Shakespeare and the browse that they browsed was cold meat. Nobody browsed a book until the nineteenth century, and the idea of going into a shop and just browsing the buds of commerce rather than buying anything is a purely twentieth century notion. And only twenty years ago did people start to browse the Internet.

It's rather appropriate, really. If there were grass in the real world we would graze; but for lack of proper pasture one ends up clicking on links, reading blogs and metaphorically and etymologically chewing at the sparse vegetation that grows in the central reservation of the Information Super-Highway.

I would say that it was impossible to use a browser to surf, but then I found this picture. So I shall simply leave you with the informaculus that the right to browse is called browsage.

Were I more skilled with Photoshop™ I would subimpose a cobweb and thus have a browser surfing the web. You'll simply have to use your imagination.
P.S. I can't think of anything to say about Kubla Khan today, maybe tomorrow.
P.P.S. Look! You're at It worked.


  1. Yesterday's Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword had a clue yesterday where the answer was browse and the definition was pasture!

    What a coincidence ;-)

  2. Now I would like to write a formal letter asking for "Browsage". That is an awesome word!