This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Thing To Do Today. Or Possibly Not: closet oneself.

These days we are forever leaping out of the closet with some news or other. 

I'm gay! I don't shave under my arms! I eat meat! I don't like kittens!

Oh, okay, not that last one. No one is that brave.

Anyway, closet. The first closet I knew about was a water closet, as in WC, and so when in eighteenth century books heroines went to their closets to weep or pray it did seem rather odd behaviour (we don't generally call our cupboards and wardrobes closets in England. Not that going and sitting in a wardrobe would have been much less peculiar).

But, as gradually became clear to me, these heroines' closets were in fact small private rooms. Presumably it's this sort of closet we leave nowadays to make our confessions - and also the sort of closet we closet ourselves in when we want to have a private chat.

But what about a closet strategist? Is that some sort of an interior designer?

Well, no, not usually, but what one is depends on where he is. In Britain a closet strategist is a secret strategist; in America his strategy isn't secret, but speculative. 

It's the sort of baffling quirk of language that keeps the relationship between Britain and America so very very special.

File:Closet 2009 Australia.JPG
Photo of an Australian closet by Matthew Paul Argall

Thing To Do Today, Or Possibly Not: closet oneself. This word comes from the Old French, from clos, enclosure. It's basically the same word as close.

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