The etymology of handicap is the source of a myth that dates back to sixteenth century England. The myth claims that ‘handicap’ is a mutated contraction of the expression ‘cap in hand,’ an old euphemism for begging. However, ‘handicap’ is in fact a contraction of ‘hand in cap,’ a popular Medieval bartering game. Over the course of today's episode, we examine how the word came to mean ‘a physical or mental disability’ and why it's now considered to be a politically incorrect term.
In today's episode, we look at the etymology of mouse, but really, it's a springboard into a far more complicated topic: the word "mice," its irregular plural form. Why do we say "mice" and not "mouses" when referring to more than one mouse? The answer lies in the grammar of an ancient tongue that predates modern English by thousands of years. This is the most linguistic-heavy episode of Words for Granted yet, so first-time listeners, beware!