Wednesday, April 11, 2012
I've been re-reading many of "The Cat Who..." mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun lately. They're a quick, fun read, and it's been a bit since I last indulged in them. The protagonist of the series is a journalist who inherits unimaginable wealth. This causes him to move with his two Siamese, Koko and Yum Yum, to a community "up north" to collect and deal with his windfall. In the latest book I've been reading, the author refers to "cater-corner," meaning something diagonal to something else. A new word for me! I've always said kitty-corner and I've heard catty-corner, but never cater-corner. Of course, I had to consult the dictionary and then seek some online sources to try to find the origins of the word. You'd think I would've been able to leap to its etymology after having earned a minor in French in college. Cater-corner reportedly comes from a four-spot dice, with "cater" having been derived from the French word for "four" - quatre. The assumption is made that "cater" meant the opposite side of a square. I wasn't able to find a definitive origin of the word but it was fun to do the research. My late father always urged me to consult a dictionary when encountering a new word. So, Dad, I followed your advice and can now add "cater-corner" to my vocabulary!