Monday, July 29, 2013

Wheather* (for Whether* or Weather*)

I was once lucky enough to get a word in a spelling bee that I had actually just seen on a study list, and therefore was able to get right. The word was bellwether, a rather nice-sounding word, in fact, that means "any entity in a given arena that serves to create or influence trends or to presage future happenings." (In this case, the word bellwether was wonderfully behaving as an example of its own meaning, and if there's a word for that, I'd love to know what it is.) According to Wikipedia, it derives from the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (or wether) leading his flock of sheep: "The movements of the flock could be noted by hearing the bell before the flock was in sight." Whether it's sheep that you're raising or wheat bread that's rising, it always helps to plan ahead. We encountered a little weather around today's typo, which was detected twice in OhioLINK, and 286 times in WorldCat.

(The Wheat Sifters, by Gustave Courbet, 1855, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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