Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Friday, July 27, 2012



I am positively wallowing in the wonder of summer. During the school year, my middle-schoolers make me laugh, but to be honest, they’ve got nothing on summer. So this week I’m indulging in a modicum of etymology & a few celebratory quotes about summer.

Summer comes to English from Sanskrit. It appeared in English in 825, meaning exactly what it does today & spelled sumur. Interestingly, summer is etymologically related to the word gossamer, which came to English in the early 1300s, from a marriage of the words goose & summer, & meant spider threads spun in fields of stubble in late fall. Etymologists theorize that the spider silk looked a bit like goose feathers. Hmm. Within a century, gossamer found its present meaning, of light, flimsy, or delicate.

Here are some authors’ thoughts about summer.

“Summer's lease hath all too short a date.”

   -Celia Thaxter

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

“Come with me,' Mom says.
To the library.
Books and summertime
go together.”

“One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.”

"Summertime and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ as high as the sky
Your mama’s rich and your daddy’s good-looking
So hush little baby, don’t you cry"
   -DuBose Heyward, music by George Gershwin

So, good followers, what thoughts do you have regarding summer or on these thoughts of summer?

My thanks go out to this week’s sources,, Goodreads & the OED.


  1. Fascinating that the Brits didn't have a word for summer until they got one from India. I remember a commercial that used to run on UK TV, telling people to put a beer in the fridge, "because you never know when summer will happen". They showed a guy in the rain, surprised by a sudden burst of sunlight--when he ran to the fridge and drank his beer--as the sunlight faded. Then he was standing in the rain again. A 30-second summer. Sounded about right.

  2. Good point, Anne,
    I suppose some regions would require words for specific seasons more than others. Souldn't the trope/myth of Alaskan natives having 27 words for snow be met with a similar trope/myth about equatorial folk having multiple words for summer?

  3. Gossamer. One of those lovelyl words one hardly ever gets the opportunity to use. I love the sound of the word "equipoised" but, how often does that word roll over your tongue or show up on the page. Sigh. But, never knew gossamer had anything to do with geese! Or spiders! Fascinating stuff, sir.

  4. Gee-whiz, and here I though that summer was invented by the Sumerians!