This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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



Friday, 6 April 2018

Word To Use Today: cowslip.

The cowslips are just coming into flower in England:

File:Cowslip Wood (6993930576).jpg
Cowslip Wood. Photo by Tony Hisgett

They've been magical flowers for me ever since reading LITTLE GREY RABBIT'S MAY DAY by Alison Uttley, where all the small animals go around the village in a procession carrying Crown Imperials:

File:Marshal - Crown imperial, narcissi and auriculas.png
(The crown imperial is the big one. Illustration by Alexander Marshal.)

and balls made of cowslips - of which I can't find a picture anywhere.

Well, yes, all right, all right. I was young, okay? And Squirrel wore a very pretty yellow dress and had a blue ribbon in her tail. What more could any six-year-old girl want?

Now, I imagine a cowslip ball is a bunch of cowslips formed into a...well, a ball. It's something I've always longed to see, or make, but I don't know how. The nearest thing I can find is this illustration HERE, which doesn't tell me nearly enough.

But anyway, the other day I wondered what's so cow-like or slippy about a cowslip?

Sadly this has led to a crushing disappointment. So crushing a disappointment that I would strongly recommend you stop reading here.

It's really rather sad.

Word To Use Today: cowslip. The cow bit is indeed to do with the animals (originally from the Sanskrit gāus). The slip part of the word is the same sort of slip that means runny clay, a word related to the Norwegian slipa which means the slime on fish.

Cows' slip...

Oh dear.

And they're such pretty flowers!

File:Primula veris 002.JPG
photo by H Zell.

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