Daily Archives: February 12, 2009


A moist, flapping word for a floppy but dry thing. It laps the tip of the tongue against the alveolar ridge, and the second time you may find it flops right down to the bottom gums. The lips pucker, then slap together. It’s almost as though you were lapping dew. But while the pendulous fold of skin this word signifies may seem like a tongue, this lap is not the one that cats do with milk; rather, it is related to where children may sit. Your lap, you see, is so named because of the fold of fabric that commonly hung there at one time (ere shirts were normally tucked in); this lap is a hanging piece of fabric or similar that is or may be folded over, from Old Germanic lappa. And if fabric, why not skin on a neck? As to the dew, eschew any mind of moistness; it has naught to do with the dew of dawn (except by influence of reanalysis, perhaps). The shape of the morpheme is useful, with the w like the folds of skin on a Brahman bull’s neck. But if you thought sooner of a basset hound, you might be closer to the scent, for in Danish and Norwegian this word is doglæb and doglæp… but though the dogs may have been let out, they are not dogs; the word for “dog” in Scandinavian languages is hund – our word dog has come from uncertain origins (perhaps God wanted anglophones, and no one else, to see the word god reflected in these creatures… while leaving felines to reflect tac).