This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Monday, 29 December 2014

The 4th Day of Christmas: colly birds: Spot the Frippet.

Four colly birds...

But what on earth does colly mean?

Now, I've been able to answer to that question for ages. The only problem is that, as so often, it's been the wrong answer.

Colly? I would have said, right up until, ooh, about yesterday, that's short for calling. A colly bird is a calling bird, hence anything that warbles, twitters or coos. Though not necessarily anything that tweets.

But I would have been wrong, wrong, wrong, though not quite utterly and completely. At least a colly bird is a bird, and not a fish, like a Bombay duck, or a frog, like a mountain chicken. And the colly birds you get in England do sing very beautifully. Like this:

Do you get it, yet? Colly bird. Well, look at the colour of its feathers.

Yep. That's it. Colly means soot or grime. There's even a verb colly which means to besmirch.

And, yep again, colly is basically the same word as coal.

So today's Frippet is either a grubby bird, or one that is black, or one that looks grubby.

colly bird could be a crow, blackbird, urban pigeon, or quite a lot of female birds who rely on being less than obvious in order to escape attention when they're nesting.

I'm afraid this won't be all that easy for The Word Den's Antarctic visitors...

Image for Pix For > Cute Baby Penguins

...although some penguin chicks do look as if they've been rooting about in a coal scuttle, don't they.

Word To Use Today: colly. This word comes from the Old English col, which means coal.

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