This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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



Friday, 8 November 2019

Word To Use Today: canasta/canaster/canister.

So what do a card game (canasta), a type of coarse tobacco (canaster) and a metal tin for keeping your coffee or tea fresh (canister) have in common?

Award yourself a treat from the biscuit canister if you can work it out.

Word To Use Today: canasta or canaster or canister.

Answer: all these words come from the Greek word kanna, which means reed (as does the word canal, for that matter). 

But how the words are connected?

Here's a clue: the words all also come from the Latin word canistrum, which means a basket made of reeds.

It's an easy hop and a skip from there to the idea of storage container (and also to the other type of canister, which is a sort of shrapnel loaded inside a shell); and if you think about tobacco, that, too, needs to be packed in something, and in this case it's a basket made of rushes (the word comes to us through the Spanish canastro).

But the card game?

Well, it uses two packs...

…and that's very nearly a basketful.


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