Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

A blog about words, wordplay, and etymology, with slightly more than occasional political rants.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Come back! I want to count your toes!

As you are reading this, I am, I would hope, sweltering by a pool with a virgin daiquiri and a decent cigar (unless you're my mother, in which case, scratch the cigar). Yes, I'm visiting beautiful Key West, Florida, while my dear Andy soaks up the cable TV in my apartment and tries to keep the cats from eating everything we love, including each other.
Do you like how I slipped in that we have a house sitter? Way more clever than leaving the TV blaring.
So seeing as I'm (hopefully) soaking up the sun in the Keys, I will tell you that key as in island is etymologically unrelated to key, as in the thing that locks the door. Key as in the island comes from the Spanish cayo. A key is the same thing as a cay, also from the Spanish cayo (obviously), which is a low island formed on the surface of a coral reef. 
They do, in fact, grow key limes in Key West. They do not grow turkeys in Turkey, though the birds do mistakenly get their name from the place, which you can read all about in last year's Thanksgiving post.
Lime also comes from Spanish, from the word lima, meaning citrus fruit. Limey became a nickname for the British because British sailors ate limes to ward off scurvy. 
Scurvy is an awesome word, but even more awesome is the word it may descend from, skyrbjugr, an Old Norse word for a disease caused from drinking sour milk.
There is no island off the Florida Keys called Kokomo, contrary to what the Beach Boys claim. There is a Kokomo Indiana, and that's kind of a cruel joke. No offense to Indiana or anything, but if you were looking for bodies in the sand, tropical drinks melting in your hand, and falling in love to the rhythm of a steel drum band, and you were looking for it in Indiana, you'd be looking for a while. 
This isn't a particularly long post, but seeing as I'm making it at 11:30 on the eve of my vacation, I think you can suck it up. Like I'm sucking up my daiquiri. 


VEG said...

Bahaha that was funny! And I'm jealous as SHIT you're in Key West because after years of longing to go there, my sister and I drove down to the Keys from Miami in 2005 full of excitement and stayed the first night in Islamorada. So lovely. Day two was Key West and we got up bright and early to find....we were getting evacuated due to Hurricane Rita. GAH. So I still haven't been to Key West. Sniff.

My mom used to tell us as kids if we didn't eat our fruit and veggies we'd get scurvy. I was TERRIFIED of scurvy. I don't even know what it is!

Things To Do said...

Haha! I hope you enjoyed Key West and the daiquiri's. :)

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