This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Word To Use Today: whisker.

Whiskers are generally found, of course, on the faces of animals (though, confusingly, the cat's whiskers are exactly the same as the bee's knees).

Some birds, various prawn-like creatures, and bats have whiskers, and many non-flying mammals do, too.

Whiskers have the lovely anatomical name vibrissa, which is to do with vibrating, but they're mostly used as feelers - except in the case of humans, where whiskers are usually an attempt to excuse odd behaviour.

In chemistry, a whisker is a very fine single crystal, often surprisingly strong and good at conducting electricity.
There are also whisker booms, which hold extra sails on a boat when there's not much wind.

And of course a whisker also means a tiny distance, as in when the custard exploded I escaped death by a whisker.

Word To Use Today: whisker. This word comes from the Old Norse word visk, which means wisp, and before that from the Old High German wisc.

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