This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Nuts and Bolts: fleas in the ear.

If you've been given a flea in your ear then you've been sent away with a telling-off or a sharp refusal - well, if you're English you have, anyway. If you're French, German, Italian or Greek it's quite different. 

In those cases the flea you have in your ear (for the French la puce á l'oreille) will have made you suspicious...unless you're a French Mediaeval person, because in Mediaeval times the fleas in French people's ears used to torment them not with suspicions but with desire.

File:Flea Scanning Electron Micrograph False Color.jpg
Photo by CDC/Janice Haney Carr

Mind you, if you're Dutch then to have a flea in your ear means you're feeling restless.

Rather thrillingly, a restless German speaker's ears are completely clear of all hopping insects. For a German speaker Ihm ist eine Laus über die Leber gekrochen: a louse has crawled over his liver.

Actually, given the choice I think I'd settle for the flea.

Word To Use Today: flea. The Old English form of this word was flēah.


  1. Interesting but that picture is most SCARY!

    1. I thought it was interesting because it's puce: a good illustration of why the French for flea is la puce.