Luke Taylor

Grammar Grater®

with Luke Taylor


Episode 115: Homespun Language

"I am a weaver and a spinner," declares Judy Payne of St. Paul, Minn. "I do a lot of other crafts, too. I was at one time a museum director, so I learned all of these nifty 19th century crafts and I never quite left anything behind me."

Payne joins us this week on our second of two episodes recorded at the Minnesota State Fair. A member of the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, Payne is steeped in knowledge about the crafts of weaving and spinning.

But why would a weaver join us on Grammar Grater?

"There are a lot of words and phrases that we don’t even realize [come] from that craft," Payne says.

From a bench outside the State Fair’s Creative Activities building, Payne describes a number of phrases that come from spinning and weaving; some connections are obvious, others less so.

File not found. as Payne gives us the histories behind these words or expressions:

spinster noun a single woman beyond the usual age for marriage (often derogatory)

dyed in the wool phrase unchanging in a particular belief

heckle verb interrupt (a public speaker) with comments or abuse

Luddite noun a person opposed to new technology

on tenterhooks phrase in a state of nervous suspense

Pop Goes the Weasel title a popular nursery rhyme

spin a yarn phrase tell a far-fetched story

Payne explains the origins of each of these, and some of the explanations are quite surprising.

Music from this episode: "Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat and Tears; "It's A Shame" by The Spinners

Source: Oxford Dictionary of Current English

Link: Weavers Guild of Minnesota

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