This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Friday, 27 September 2013

Word To Use Today: corbie.

What's a corbie?

Why, something that walks up corbie steps, of course:

Zunfthaus zur Haue in Zürich.

And who would walk up those? Well, chimney sweeps and roofers, though the reason for corbie steps is probably more to do with the fact that stone blocks tend to come square-cut than to help them.

They're rather grand to look at, are corbie steps, although unfortunately they're not the most sensible things if you want to keep the rain out.

Ah well.

So, is a corbie a chimney sweep or a roofer, then?

No, neither of those.

This fine fellow:

is a corbie.

In most parts of the world we call them crows, and they're black; but they're called corbies in Scotland and are quite often largely grey.

If you want to know who you're going to marry, then a corbie is what you want. You go out on the morning of Candlemass (February 2nd) and you throw a stone in the general direction of a corbie (you don't want to hit it). If it doesn't budge you then throw a bone towards it, and then if it's still refusing to move, a clump of turf. If it flies off over the sea, you'll marry a foreigner; if it lands on a farm or house, it'll be someone from home; but if it stays put, you'll never marry at all.

Well, that's what the Faroe Island legend says, anyway.

Word To Use Today: corbie. This word comes from the Old French corvin, from the Latin corvus, a raven.

The word corbie sometimes refers to a raven even now.


  1. Love the corbie stories and poems. That tradition is wonderful. Love this!

    1. Yes, the crow family usually get a really bad press, don't they? And give a crow a bad name...