Tag Archives: Middle English

Covey

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Covey \ˈkə-vē\

noun: a mature bird or pair of birds with a brood of young; also : a small flock; Company, group

I’ve been editing a lot lately (hence the less-than-usual number of posts), and in my editing I’ve found some absolutely lovely words–not all of which were meant to be written. But, of course, that makes them all the more fun to find! The best kind of typo is an amazing-vocabulary-inducing typo–and such was covey.

Covey really is a lovely word–it even sounds lovely, like a pet name shared amongst friends. C’mon, coveys, let’s go! And that is actually a pretty good false use of this word–it’s indicative of a cozy little grouping of birds, or people, with a close relationship.

Aw, how sweet.

So, how to use it? How about:

The covey of friends never used their superpowers for evil, only for good.

Or:

Exploring my barn the other day, I found a covey of pigeons holed up in one of the rafters–I just hope the cat doesn’t find them!

So this wonderful word, where did it come from? It’s still pretty true to its original, literal, meaning, as it turns out–it was first used in the 14th century, back when everyone spoke Middle English and it meant “brood of partridges,” but before that it was French, covee (brood), and before that Gall-Romanic, cubata (hatchling), and before that Latin, cubare–to sit, incubate, or hatch.

So it’s always been a bird word. But one that’s definitely worth using! Whether or not it’s done intentionally.

Tomfoolery

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Tomfoolery \ˌtäm-ˈfül-rē, -ˈfü-lə-\

noun: playful or foolish behavior

When I was college, my roommate and I became slightly obsessed with this word. She saw it in a movie at some point–for the life of me, I don’t know which one–and we decided that we should start each and every day by leaping out of bed and asking each other: “What sort of tomfoolery should we get into today?”

Sadly, this never actually happened. But! It could have.

So obviously, that’s one way to use tomfoolery. Here are a few more:

Their  tomfoolery finally reached such heights that I had to coax Raul off the roof with a sandwich, for fear he’d hurt himself. The things my husband will do for a sandwich…

or:

Lisa had never liked clowns. Which is why, I suppose, she decided it would be a good idea to stand up in the middle of their performance and shout “I hate this stupid tomfoolery!” It’s just so unfortunate she happened to do this right as they started throwing the cream pies…

or:

I’ve never understood why pool signs say “No running, no diving.” Why don’t they just say “No tomfoolery,” and be done with it?

Be careful how you use it, though; the word tomfoolery is pretty new, with a first usage around 1812, but the person form, tomfool, dates from the 1640s, and derives from the 14h century Middle English term Thom Foole, meaning an insane person. Not exactly PC.

Buuuut I’m guessing that since no one really knows that part, you can feel free to start calling your friends tomfools with no repercussions.

In any case, let the tomfoolery begin!