Word Whistles

Rain, Rain, Go Away….

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So it has been a while since I took the time to look at words. I know–not always exciting but the etymology of commonly used words always intrigues me. Especially of where we got the meanings, usage and how it all changes over time. Like the word “gay”–10th century meaning “happy” but now it has a strong primary meaning of “a male in love with another male.” (i know-simplistic explanation) or (unfortunately) used as a insult or slur.

So I was thinking of a commonly used word and right now–the sky turned grey and dark. With the impending doom of “El Nino” expected to hit the califiornia coast this winter (still waiting i might add)… I thought I would look at the word RAIN.

Now a simple google search already shows you something interesting… “rain” the word while germanic in nature (english tends to get their meanings/words from this) actually has an association with the German and Dutch word regan. I was like “wow–Ronald Regan is rain?-what?” Of course I looked deeper. The Latin word rigo has a meaning related “to flow” while several other languages use it to refer to wet, drizzle or something related to water (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/rain#Etymology)

Rain by itself is such a simple yet it can refer to the sprinkle, spitting, downpour and sheets of water that fall from the sky. Once again,I feel our English language lacking what other languages may use a more accurate term.

So here’s to more “rain” this year, helping our drought and our knowledge of where our words come from 🙂

Have you heard??

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…the bird is the  WORD! I thought, for kicks, that it would be fun to look at the English word word. We use it to define so many things across so many genres and topics that it seems fitting in a blog topic about words that we should look at “word.”


Word is a “single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing.” It has Germanic and Dutch roots. It links to similar words for speaking and speech. I like that it has association with a promise. I love how the Christian Bible uses John 1–The Word. It describes so much and yet is a small, four letter combination. It covers an array of definitions as a noun, a verb and yet-only has a limited usage (word, words, worded, wording, etc.)

We use “word” so much–next time you speak about “word”–think about the loaded yet simple definition you hold.

Improving vocabulary 

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For a few years I have tried including words meanings from other languages in a category I called “word woche.” It came from the German word for “week” and it was an attempt to define random words. While I love learning a new language and understanding its history and its usage–I realized that there are several words in the English language as well that provide intriguing stories and histories. And since people only need a small dosage of this knowledge 😉 (unless you’re like me), I decided to rename the category and give it more of an afterthought concept.

So–here it is–the new and improved word whistles. And in honor of the new category, let’s look at the word 


Webster’s dictionary defines a “whistle” as: 

1 a :a small wind instrument in which sound is produced by the forcible passage of breath through a slit in a short tube <a police whistle>

b :a device through which air or steam is forced into a cavity or against a thin edge to produce a loud sound <a factory whistle>

2 a :a shrill clear sound produced by forcing breath out or air in through the puckered lips

b :the sound produced by a whistle

c :a signal given by or as if by whistling


The word’s etymology is very interesting actually. It has Germanic, Norse and Danish roots coming from a similar word “to hiss” since the action of pushing breath through your lips or teeth is a hissing action as well.   This definition and history also covers the verb to whistle and another word whisper. The hissing action is closely related to the hissing or a serpent or snake.  No wonder some people cannot stand it!  Clean as a whistle or wet one’s whistle are phrases that are about cleansing a person’s vocal chords with water or drink since the whisper or whistle are like breathe cleaning or wetting your throat with air. Maybe this explains why people whistle as a way to clear their mind.   

For dogs, whistling can even hurt their ears since it is a high pitched sound and their hearing is more affected than a human’s hearing.  

🎶🎶🎶enjoy your whistling🎶🎶🎶


Word Woche 10.31.14

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In honor of the pending holiday, I decided to look into the word “Halloween.”

Halloween comes from “All Hallow’s Eve” Wikipedia talks about it beginning with the time of the Christian calendar when believers prepared for death.  And while I would love to explain the meaning of the holiday and where it comes from and yada, yada…

But I thought instead I would do something different.

I though I would actually be practical with Halloween.  In the tradition, Halloween was an attempt to scare away the evil spirits with laughter and fun. Dressing up gives a chance for kids to learn that sometimes there’s nothing to fear behind the masks and makeup. It also can teach people to respect death, learn that life is precious, etc.

So embrace halloween, make it fun. And if you don’t like it, well christmas is right around the corner and that’s every reason to celebrate

Word Woche 9.25.14

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Continuing on the tradition until October, here’s a little more Amos 5 for some fun 😀

Amos 5:13-15
13) Therefore the one acting prudently in time  will keep silent because it is an evil time.
14) Seek good and not evil in order that you may live and may the LORD God of Hosts be with you as you have said.
15) Hate evil and Love good! Establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the LORD God of Hosts will show favor to the remanent of Joseph.

Second Call to Reconciliation (v13-15)
The second reconciliation section begins with a verse that appears very out of context.  It begins by ending the previous second of accusations (v11-12) but unlike verses 14 & 15 that contain imperatives and 2nd person plural verbs, its main verb is in a participial form.  It also changes from plural to singular subjects-possibly directing the cursing towards a singular person or to the idea that the nation of Israel as one unit is committing these sins. In verse 14 דרש “seek” is used when seeking out objects such as justice, implying in Amos’ prophetic message seeking for others’ well-being but at the same time possibly holding the other meaning “to seek” in reference to seeking God. “Seeking is a privilege and responsibility of belonging to the covenant community.” (1)  Finally, verses 14 & 15 encourage again the same as verse 4 & 6 – Seek God so that you may live.

A new addition to this section is the change of using YHWH or LORD God to Yahweh, God of Hosts.  Not only does it reflect God’s coming judgment upon Israel but it also has a military context in connection with verse 3.  “In texts where God calls judgement upon Israel, often through the use of foreign armies, they remain God’s hosts in the service of a divine objective.” (2)  The focuses is shifting to the unavoidable death of Israel through God’s might armies. (3)

1. Willem A. Van Gemeren, gen ed., The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, vol.1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1997) 994-995
2. Willem A. Van Gemeren, gen ed., The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, vol.4 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1997) 1297
3. This is why the New Living Translation of the Bible refers to “God’s Mighty Armies” when translating from YHWH, God of Hosts.