minnow at belfry.org.uk
Tue Apr 8 09:18:40 EDT 2008
Sally O wrote:
>Now my problem is one of nomenclature. Hags are all female, right? So
>Kirsty's nephew was presumably the male version. What would THAT be called?
As far as I can make out he'd be a hag.
In the Middle English, the word was 'hegge' or 'hagge', shortened from the
Old English 'haegtesse', which was from the Germanic 'hag', meaning 'bush',
with the female ending 'tesse' on it. (Witches were meant to hang out in
bushes at night.) As soon as it lost the feminine ending 'tesse' it
stopped being exclusively feminine, and started to be used for male hags
In English a hag may also be a hedge, a coppice or a copse, presumably from
the same German bush.
Made me wonder for a moment about where 'hedge-witch' might come from:
bush-bush belong Satan! maybe, or some other pidgen phrase. What a shame
that 'hedge-'this-or-that in English just implies poor quality or
shadiness, or that would be a fine theory.
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