This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Friday, 21 February 2020

Word To Use Today: timothy.

You will probably have heard of Little Jenny Wren, but no one expects there ever to have been an original small girl called Jenny who gave the wren its name.

You don't, either, expect there to have been an original Robin, who gave his name to so many red-breasted birds.

The same goes for the stuff called timothy grass. It's all over the place but it's only, well, grass, and so surely the origin of the name is lost in the mists of time, right?

Timothy grass.jpg
photo by Blokenearexeter

Well, wrong. Probably.

Timothy grass is to be found more or less everywhere in Europe, where it's chomped up by, well, more or less anything that eats grass, including cows and deer and the caterpillars of the marbled white butterfly:

photo credit: By <a href="//" title="User:Hectonichus">Hectonichus</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>, <a href="" title="Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0">CC BY-SA 4.0</a>, <a href="">Link</a>

Timothy grass is found all over North America, too, but it was originally brought there, by accident, by people. Again, as it was just, well, grass, it was ignored for a while until it was noticed that, if cut late, it made pretty good hay for horses. 

The man in North America who first noticed the stuff properly called it Hurd grass (guess what his name was (his first name, by the way, was John)), but soon after that a farmer called Timothy Hanson began to promote the stuff as horse and cattle fodder, and it's been called timothy grass ever since.

It now grows wild all over North America. 

I don't know if Timothy Hanson made a fortune from his championship of timothy grass, but I rather hope so. I'm glad he was called Timothy, too: rodney grass would have been nowhere near such a lovely name.

Word To Use Today: timothy. The first famous Timothy was one of St Paul's companions on his missionary journeys. Paul wrote him two letters which are now to be found in the Bible. The Greek word timao means to honour, and theos means god.

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