[Loch-ruadh] Today's Word

Sonja Crocker sonja_crocker at usa.com
Sun Feb 3 10:42:17 PST 2002

red letter tribe

A name given to the papists for their keeping so many holy days marked in their almanacks with red letters.
--John Kersey's New English Dictionary, 1772

Candlemas is the beginning of "laying season" in the poultry-yard, and about the same time farm-house servants are "hired for May."  These events give rise to much chit-chat or, as it is called, cant amonty the housewives.
Does your goose lay?
Does your maid stay?
is a familiar couplet which aptly illustrates the kind of thing that has given rise to the term cantin-quarter.
--Geogina Jackson's Shropshire Word-Book, 1879

Jasckson's Word-Book also contains an entry describing the three-month period "from Candlemas to May-Day...called canting-quarter.


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