This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Thing Not To Be Today: tall.

I'm quite tall. Five foot nine, to be precise, which is about 175 cm. I've been apologising for this all my life. My mother was assured when she adopted me that I'd be small and fair, and she was permanently outraged about this piece of false advertising.

And then recently I met some of my birth family, and even they kept saying, amazed, I can't believe how tall you are, because they were even smaller than my adoptive family. 

So I don't know how it happened, really.


But still, it's not so bad to be tall. You can reach things, obviously, though lampshades and low doorways are hazards. It means your nose is further away from your smelly socks. Your feet generally reach the floor when sitting down.

But I can't deny that small is cuter.

Ah well.

Thing Not To Be Today: tall. This is an odd word. It's first found in English in the 1300s, when it meant large, attractive and brave, but before that it was related to the Old English getæl, which means prompt (well, I suppose you do see a tall person coming sooner) or active. It's also related to the Old High German gizal, quick, and the Gothic untals, which means foolish or not docile.

In the 1500s tall went through a stage of meaning to do with height, though not necessarily actually tall. You still see this in the expression 100 cm tall - which, obviously, is not tall at all. 

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