As merry as a grig, as the saying goes: but what's a grig?
The dictionary says it can be a short-legged hen, a lively person, or a young eel.
Well, a merry chicken is unlikely, unless someone had soaked its corn in sherry. And a merry eel? Well, have you ever seen an eel smile?
The wonderful Wikipedia defines a grig as a cricket (I suppose they sing, which is quite merry), or any insect in the family prophalangopsidae:
That one's from the Jurassic era.
I've not spent much time with the prophalangopsidae sort of a grig, but the females are said to eat the wings of the males when mating. I can see it's a good way of stopping them flying off with some flashy ladybird, but it doesn't strike me as particularly merry.
A grig can also be a heath, apparently. I find heaths rather gloomy places, but perhaps that's just that I've read too much Thomas Hardy.
Luckily, all these not-very-merry grigs still leave us the grig that means a lively person. No, they're not that easy to spot on a Monday morning, I admit: but then we all enjoy a challenge, don't we.
Spot the Frippet: grig. This word might be a form of Greek (Shakespeare uses merry as a Greek in Troilus and Cressida - but then, as we know, his spelling was rather unreliable) or grig might be a form of cricket. Samuel Johnson suggested that the word grig might originally have meant anything smaller than usual, and there's certainly a Swedish word krik, which means a little creature.