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Hard cider, et cetera

Raise your hand if you enjoy words. Not just writing and speaking with them, but contemplating them. Looking them up in the dictionary and trying them on for size.

I read the monthly newsletter from Word.com regularly–particularly the Top 20 for each month. That’s the top 20 most searched for words in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. For example, last month “rogue” and “hoax” made the list.  In addition to the Top 20, this month’s newsletter celebrates the 220th anniversary of George Washington’s proclamation of a national day of Thanksgiving, by looking back at words that first appeared in print in 1789.

They list “hard cider” among several “distinctively American” words from that year. Federal court is another. Not distinctively American–“banderillero” and “karoo.”

Back to “hard cider.” I’ve always wondered–do you suppose it was invented, or created by accident? What did they call it before 1789? I can’t believe the first hard cider sprang into existence then. I mean, I’ve never believed the fruit in the Garden was actually an apple. But apples have been around for a long time and people must have pressed them into juice. Or maybe the assumption was cider meant an alcoholic beverage and it was only later that a distinction had to be made.

Something to think about for another day. Now, I seem to be thirsty.

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