Tuesday, 4 October 2011

cynical about quinsy

Last week I had a quinsy.

Well, I probably didn't have a full-blown case of quinsy, because that would involve 'a severe sore throat', and mine wasn't too bad. Annoying and inconvenient, though.

I came across the word quinsy in a book called growing berries and currants, a directory of how to cultivate them successfully. (I love growing berries and I'm excited that my raspberries already have flower buds.)

Currants were often used in the past as a cure for quinsy. If I'd known about that perhaps I'd have drunk black currant juice each day, instead of lemon and honey drinks, and spared myself the sore stomach this week.

Curiosity about the word's origin sent me to the Net, and I discovered that, like the word cynic, it comes from the old Greek word for dog. The Online Etymology Dictionary says:
"severe sore throat," c.1300, qwinaci, from O.Fr. quinancie, from L.L. cynanche, from Gk. kynankhe "dog strangling," originally "dog collar," from kyon (gen. kynos) "dog" + ankhein "to strangle," cognate with L. angere (see anger).
As I said on my dog blog, I only have to see my dog straining at the lead when she sees something interesting ahead of us, to visualise a sore throat as a strangling collar. Observing the way she gargles and gags, I suspect she does at times give herself a temporary quinsy.

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