Aug 31, 2009

You Say Crotch-et-y, I Say Cro-chet-ee . . .

Crotch-et-y --adj. Capriciously stubborn or eccentric. Given to crotchets, subject to odd notions, whims. Having a difficult and contrary disposition.
--Synonyms: fussy, eccentric, grouchy.

At lunch last week my good friend Linda said I was a bit "crotchety." It all started when another friend noted that
I was the only person at the table wearing a watch, adding that, "in this day and age, why wear something that only does one thing?!" Lazybones that I am, I told her I refuse to pull out my cell phone or blackberry just to see the time. Looking back, I guess I was a bit stubborn in my defense of wristwatches, admittedly a bit capricious since my watch is stuck on 9:00 as I wait to find a replacement battery.

Naturally, lunch and meandering conversations being what they are, we were stymied by the question, what the hell is a crotchet?

Some have suggested that perhaps being crotchety might be an affliction of people who crochet.
Hrmp! While it is true that "crotchety" does sound and look very much like "crochety," and that only a T separates the two, it doesn't help that Internet search engines assume you can't spell and must mean "crochet" so offer links to all things crochet. The etymology of "crotchety" is related to the crotchet, which in 1573 was a "whim or fancy," which seems to have taken its meaning from a 1394 usage as an architectural ornament of curled leaves, which in turn may have been taken from the Old French word for hook. The Online Etymology Dictionary says the sense evolution is obscure. Really?! Seems to make perfect sense to me -- curled leaves resembling a hook that during the Renaissance might well have been considered quite whimsical or fanciful. A hook is also a barb and can be quite sharp. Thus someone who displays an odd fanciful or whimsical notion or uses a sharp tone (i.e., grouchy) is crotchety. See?! Not exactly rocket science.

And certainly not limited to the practitioners of my favorite craft, as we all know and bitch about crotchety knitters, crotchety weavers, crotchety bosses, crotchety neighbors, crotchety friends, crotchety . . . The list is endless.

Being called crotchety gets one to thinking, thinking about getting old. Admit it, only people of a certain age remember when that word was in common usage. When have you ever heard people complain about some "crotchety little kid?" I turned "mmph" this year and it finally hits you that you are now the third oldest person in the office and that you are old enough to be mama to almost half your co-workers. It's a bit mind-boggling, considering that you feel as young as they are. Sometimes act like it too.

Am I a crotch-et-y old lady? No?

Am I a cro-chet-ee old lady? Yes. And proud of it.

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