Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Daily Hump: Bleach

I know some of my more loyal readers may read into the fact that yesterday I humped witch hazel and today I'm humping bleach. Yes, I have a thing for cleanliness. Yes, you could even say I'm kind of OCD. But really, I swear, this hullaballoo is unwarranted as this whole occurrence is a freak coincidence.

Do ya know what I'm doin', doin' the Humpty Hump.

Bleach isn't just the name of Nirvana's totally excellent first album (which, granted, pales is comparison to their later efforts) so-named because Kurt appreciated the chemical's effectiveness for cleaning needles. Bleach is better known as that noxious agent that keeps your brights bright and your tile floor sparkly. The word comes down to us from the Old English blǣcan, which is from the Proto-Germanic *blaikos "white," which is from the Proto-Indo-European *bhleg- "to gleam." Other related words include blanche, blank, bleak and blink; and curiously, quite unexpectedly, black.

Yes, folks, bleach and black are likely from the same root. As the Online Etymology Dictionary notes the connection between blanche, blank, bleak and blink seems to be "burning, blazing, shining, whiteness." The burning and blazing aspect is what's important because that's also the likely link between bleach and black. "That the same root yielded words for 'black' and 'white' is probably because both are colorless, and perhaps because both are associated with burning." Okay then.

Before you go some more fodder for your noggin: according to the AHD bleachers (like those ass-hurting things you used to sit on at high school pep rallies) were so named because it's a comparison of "a person's exposure to the sun when sitting on them with the exposure of linens bleaching on a clothesline." The Online Etymology Dictionary disputes this etymology however saying bleachers "were so-named because the boards were bleached by the sun." The OED doesn't weigh in on the issue so I'm going to have to go with the Online Etymology Dictionary on this one. The AHD etymology is just stoopid.

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:: posted by David, 8:50 AM

2 Comments:

One day, Radiohead will release a product for tooth bleach. It will be called Pearly. The commercial is already done.
Blogger Loocite, at 10:03 AM  
i like the new look. it reminds me of this incident from my childhood. i came home and everything - well, ok, just the front door locks and my room - was completely different. my parents decided to sign up as a foster family and try out a couple other kids. they painted my room and put up those "nameable" trophies on the dresser. and even though i had to sleep in the basement for the next few years and drop out of my private school to attend the local HVAC academy, i think, in the long run, the new look of my life was ultimately a good thing. this really brought me back. thanks wordhumper!
Blogger Kox, at 11:54 AM  

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