This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Friday, 18 November 2016

Word To Use Today: steeple.

My town has a rather fine steeple:

Hemel Hempstead - St Mary's Church - - 407742.jpg
St Mary's Church, Hemel Hempstead

In fact my town has more than one, but that's the famous one. It was built in the 1300s and, at 200 feet tall, is one of the tallest in Europe.

(I wonder how many buildings going up today will still be standing in the year 2700?)

So, what is a steeple? Well, it consists of a spire (that's the pointy bit) plus any bits of the building (lantern, belfry, tower etc) underneath it.

A steeplechase is a race (sometimes on horseback) with both flat bits and obstacles to get over. It was originally run across country with a steeple serving as an easily visible finishing post.

A steeplejack is the person who'll mend or build your steeple (or, as this sort of work doesn't come along all that often, your tall chimney or other terrifying structure). Gulp.

Why is the thing called a steeple?

Why, because it's steep, of course.

Word To Use Today: steeple. The Old English word for this was stēpel, and the word steep is related to the Old High German stouf, a cliff.

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