Monday, May 25, 2015


I love the fact that the minute I get home from a trip that my word a day is sending me those linked to my (current) mother tongue: French.


(pol-i-TES, po-lee-)

noun: Formal politeness or courtesy.

From Old French politesse (cleanness, polished state), from Italian politezza (polish, smoothness), from Latin polire (to polish). Ultimately from the Indo-European root pel- (skin or hide), which also gave us pelt, pillion, and film. Earliest documented use: 1683.

Well I must be possessed of some politesse as I have kind of tidied up the entry, the kitchen and the living room – picking up a visitor at the train station today (and yes I even got my suitcase emptied and put away – there’s one for the records!) so fulfill the Old French explanation. The Italian of polish or smoothness – hmmm not quite so likely unless you count my newly washed hair that I tried to blow-dry my preferred style – sleek.

Isn’t it interesting that it came from the root of “pel” meaning skin or hide: so does politesse mean that one smoothes or polishes one’s hide or skin? If so I am going to flunk the meaning according to the original root meaning.

Well on to being polite or courteous at least for today: it’s a holiday after all. And there’s more on that particular subject at my housemate’s blog: