One cool dialectal variation that I always ask people about is their use of the phrases kitty-corner and catty-corner. Although I never heard them growing up, apparently they mean "diagonally across from someone or something", with kitty being more used in the north and west (and said slightly more overall) and catty being a Southern thing. Anyway, while I was researching the etymology of cadre the other day, I stumbled across the fact that the initial element in both words comes from the same Latin word - quattuor, meaning "four". That developed into French quatre, which spawned the now-archaic word cater, initially meaning "cut into fourths" and later "diagonal". Around the 1830s, it became a thing in American English to say cater-corner for something diagonally across from a corner, and the current forms developed because of a folk etymological association with cats.
9/19/2021 01:42:54 am
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.