This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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



Monday, 1 October 2018

Spot the Frippet: dipper.

My favourite sort of dipper is hard to spot even if it's there (which it nearly always isn't). It's a bird that looks like a bulky wren:

File:White-thraoted Dipper - Aosta Valley - Italy S4E3468 (16864636648).jpg
Italian dipper. Photo by Francesco Veronesi

 which spends a lot of time underwater in shallow, fast flowing streams. When they blink you can see their startlingly white eyelids. I love them.

Still, if you fail to spot one of these beautiful birds then, rather neatly, you yourself are a dipper, because in bird watcher jargon to dip out means to miss a bird you've travelled especially to see, and to call such a person a dipper is a long-established joke.

There are other dippers, too. If you are a painter and have a small pot clipped to your palette for turps or water then that is a dipper. A car dips its headlights by means of a dipper. A dipper is slang for a pickpocket (now they are hard to spot).

On the other hand there are big dippers, which aren't hard to spot at all - although round here in Britain we call the starry one the plough:

File:North Star, Big Dipper and Cassiopeia.jpg

 and the fun fair one:

File:Giant Dipper Roller Coaster-10.jpg
San Diego. Photo by Visitor7

 a roller coaster.

Ah well. We can always fail to spot the bird, can't we?

Spot the Frippet: dipper. The word dip comes from the Old English dyppan and is related to the Old High German tupfen to wash.




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