Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WNW: Leap Day Edition

For today's Word Nerd Wednesday, I'm taking advantage of an event that happens only once every four years. We won't be talking about what a leap year or leap day is, but in honor of leap day, here are some old, obscure definitions of leap, for the pleasure of true word nerds, from the OED:

1796: The sudden fall of a river to a lower level.

1486: Supposedly a name for a group of leopards, spelled as lepe.

1747: In mining, a fault or dislocation of the strata

1620: Parched peas, as in leap pease.

1607: The action of a female animal. (Why a male animal doesn't leap in the seventeenth century, I have no idea.)

And my favorite, because it sounds so cool, like you could build a story around it:

1698: A leap in the dark, "a hazardous action taken with uncertain consequences"

And that's just a few of the definitions for the noun (another is a basket for fish; I had no idea). The verb form has even more definitions.

Happy leap day!

2 comments:

Sue said...

I've taken a few leaps in the dark...

;)

Shanda said...

Interesting! I love seeing how definitions of a word change over time (or from culture to culture).