If hosen and shoon thou ne'er gav'st nane

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon May 5 06:41:04 EDT 2003

Ania wrote:
>> >I wonder if the expression hearth and home replaced fire and flete at
>> >some point. They basically mean the same thing.
>> Don't they just!  only, hearth is an OE word too....  Maybe the two went
>> along together, both being used, until flet or flete fell out of the
>> language at some point and only hearth and home was left to fill both
>> places.
>> Minnow
>I presume (because it's the morning after the night before for me and I
>cannot be bothered to check) that home is also an OE word, it has cognates
>in other germanic languages, does it not?
>*goes to check, hangover notwithstanding, unable to resist the lure of
>Yes it is, and it does, meaning either 'home' or 'village'; these two share
>the same word in many other languages.

Oh good; that clarifies that point.

>Anyway, what I actually meant to say was, let's not forget the alliteration.
>If flete goes out of use, then the expression fire and flete becomes
>incomprehensible; fire and home does not alliterate, and replacing the whole
>expression with another alliterating one makes sense.

Exactly so.

All that leaves us to wonder is when 'flete' vanished.  I haven't got Dr
Johnson's dixionary here, but I can go and cop a look at the facsimile
edition in the Department tomorrow.  The man it belongs to (well, the man
who has lifted it out of the Department reading room and laid claim to it,
hah!) is on sabbatical leave but I'm sure I can invade his room somehow on
a pretext of scholarship.  If it isn't in Johnson, chances are it was
obsolete at that time, which might help.


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