Sunday 20 March 2022


Gave a talk a couple of months ago, a look at some of the more amusing etymologies. As always I gave the audience the opportunity to ask questions at the end, which resulted in this piece.

In all honesty I didn't know the answer to the question when it was asked. But some of you will understand when I say if I'm asked a question it will not stop coming back to mind until such time as I've answered it. I did forget for a couple of days but eventually the recurring memory forced me to answer the query.

The question was asked by a lady who, being of Welsh origin, indeed a Welsh speaker, could never understand why her husband, he born and bred in Lancashire, used the verb 'to mither' - as in 'Stop mithering me, woman!' Incidentally, just to increase the confusion further, this question was asked in Surrey, where very few of the others had heard of the term either. Indeed, it seems 'mither' is a word mostly used in the Midlands and the North of England.

I looked, and while the origins are not overly certain, the word first appears in the late 17th or early 18th century. It is thought to be derived from moedrodd meaning 'to worry, bother'. The irony here being that moedrodd is a Welsh word, the same language as the lady accused of the 'mithering' stated was her native language. I did email the answer to the group and they responded and copied in the husband and wife so they could see the answer.

As of today I have not had an answer. Perhaps they thought I was mithering? Oh, and the drink below is a cocktail known as a 'mithering bastard'.

Sunday 13 March 2022


As last time, when researching I do sometimes come across a piece which is possibly not intended to be amusing, but I found it so and for that reason I shall share it. This comes from the Birmingham Daily Post dated 7th November 1894.

The Essex coroner held an inquest on Monday night on the body of Mr James Cornwell, of Castle Hedingham, who was found with a gunshot wound in his head, lying in a ditch in the neighbourhood, on Saturday. Mr Cornwell left his home on Friday night to go to a neighbouring village. He had with him his gun, and was accompanied by a collie dog. As he did not return in the evening a search was made for him, and on the following day his lifeless body was found in a ditch near Long Crofts. The left barrel of the gun had been discharged, and there was a bramble between the triggers. The face was shattered by a gunshot. The collie was found watching by the side of its master, and refused to allow the body to be touched until Mrs Cornwell arrived. The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death",

I have to say the actions of the dog after the body was found did make me wonder whether it had planted the evidence of the bramble, and refused to let anyone approach until it was sure the man was dead. But then if dogs were really that smart, owners would simply tell them to 'shit in this bag'.

Some may realise this is the same date as that of the killer cat story last time. It did make me wonder of if the editor of the Birmingham Daily Post had collected such tales (not tails) for a slow news week.

Sunday 6 March 2022


Sometimes when researching I come across a piece which is possibly not intended to be amusing, but I found it so (possibly because of her surname) and for that reason I shall share it. This comes from the Birmingham Daily Post dated 7th November 1894.

Mr. Wynne E. Baxter held an enquiry in London, yesterday, respecting the death of Emma Kipper, aged fifty-eight, the wife of a carpenter. On the 10th of last month deceased crossed her room, when she trod on the tail of her cat, which turned round and bit her on the back of the leg. She said she felt the teeth go right to the bone. She became very ill, and was removed to the hospital, when it was found that there were wounds on the back of the left foot and a portion of the leg was gangrenous. The cause of death was infective spreading gangrene, the origin of which was possibly the bite of the cat. The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death through the bite of a cat."