3 May 2010
Monday's Word - urtication
Before you leap for the weedkiller (remember the environment and the butterflies that rely on nettles to feed their caterpillers) You might find the following article by *Michael Quinion as intreresting as I did.
"Your favourite word magazine* may be accused of nearing the knuckle(a British idiom meaning verging on the indecent), since urtication- flogging with nettles - has been advocated for erotic stimulation in various cultures. But it's known best as a method of provokinginflammation, a folk remedy for several ailments.
...The word can be traced back to Roman times. Latin "urtica" is thestinging-nettle, a name in turn taken from the verb "urere", to burn. The medical term "urticaria" refers to a condition of the skin that's also called nettle rash and hives.
Romans are said to have performed the nettle-flogging technique with other aims in mind than easing arthritis:
'Dreading the (British) climate, [Romans] brought nettles to plant around their first camp in Kent, intending to use them as food, animal fodder and, more bizarrely, as a quick heating system. A flogging with nettle stems was, they had discovered, just the thing for warming chilly limbs. Enthusiasts might like to know that it's calleurtication.
[Independent, 22 Sep. 2001.]' "
Hmm, don't know about you but I can think of more comfortable ways of keeping warm - like curling up under the duvet with a good book, for instance!
This article is reproduced with permission from:
*World Wide Words is copyright (c) Michael Quinion 2010. All rights reserved. The Words Web site is at http://www.worldwidewords.org/
Posted by Hywela Lyn at 8:29 am