This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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



Monday, 28 January 2019

Spot the Frippet: trivet.

A trivet was originally a metal three-legged frame for holding a pot over a fire:

File:Trivet, French.JPG
Yes, I know this one has four feet. Sorry! Photo by Robert Lawton

Nowadays a trivet is anything that's used to stop a hot pot burning a table (though it has to be a bit more substantial than a mat or a coaster). It might be metal, wooden, or even made of silicon.

Here are two:

File:Trivet (AM 1967.42-1).jpg

File:Trivet Valencia Ulla Procopé Arabia Finland.jpg

A chopping board, for instance, is not a trivet unless it's being used as one. Then it is. Then later it'll disappear and become a chopping board again.

The philosophers among you may find this interesting.

If you never enter a kitchen, and are never served from a very hot serving dish, then you might be able to spot a trivet in the mirror because you yourself might be as right as a trivet (I hope you are). Right as a trivet is a rather old-fashioned expression meaning in perfect health.

I can find two explanation of the origin of this odd phrase. One is probably wrong, but is much too gloriously eccentric not to share.

Spot the Frippet: a trivet. The Old English form of this word was thrifēte. The Latin tripēs means three-footed. The word trivet was in use as trevet by the early 1400s. 

There's a story that trivet in the expression right as a trivet is a garbled form of Truefit, the name of a maker of very fine wigs. But the expression steady as a trivet is old, and the expression, sadly, probably came from there.

My guess is that right as a trivet implied as level as a trivet (right as in right-angle) because, well, you try cooking a fried egg on a sloping trivet and you'll find out why.

I was a Girl Guide, so I have experience.


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