Thingamajig Thursday: the harp

It's a New Year, and our first Thursday! So you know what that means"¦ Today I'm naming that odd thingamajig you find supporting a lampshade. It's called, rather simply, a harp. I couldn't find any special reason why it would be called a harp, other than the obvious, so I figured I'd drop a little knowledge about the origins of the other harp.

Called a kinnor, in Hebrew, the harp, or lyre as it was then referred to, is first mentioned in Genesis 4:21.

And his brother's name was Yuval: he was the father of all such as handle the lyre and pipe.

Accoding to biblical tradition, then, the harp was invented by Ada and Lemekh's son Yuval. Though certainly it was King David who immortalized the instrument in all those wonderful psalms. (108:2, for instance = Awake, psaltery and harp! I will wake the dawn!) But the Egyptians had their harps, as well, which can be seen in a lot of their art.harpo.jpg

The Greeks were big on lyres and claim Orpheus as the inventor of the instrument. Whoever invented it, some of the greatest performances, I think, were by none other than Harpo Marx. Go rent Animal Crackers or Monkey Business or just about any of their hilarious films to see what I mean.

Thingamajig Thursday: ferrules

It's been a while since our last Thingamajig Thursday. Today I'm naming that slim metal band, or clamp, that wraps around a pencil, holding the eraser in place. You'll also find them stretched around a paintbrush, keeping the bristles tight, or the part of a violin bow that holds the hair to the "frog," or base.

fer.jpgAlso a verb, the word ferrule comes from the Latin viriola, or "small bracelet." So next time you're at Pearl Paint, or even Tiffany's, whip out the dope on ferrules and tell that salesperson what you really want. You might not get any better service, but you'll get a helluva lot of satisfaction showing off your knowledge.In the meantime, let's come up with a better word for the ferrule. I mean, it's a pretty okay work as far as thingamajigs go, but I know you smart readers can do better. Lay them on us.

Thingamajig Thursday: rowels

Time for another Thingamajig Thursday. Today I'm naming those small revolving disks with the sharp points that you find on the end of a cowboy's spurs.

They're called rowels, a word which can be traced back to the Latin root, rotae, which was the name of the wheel on a horse-drawn chariot. As a verb, we derive roto, or, to turn, from the same root.

Though no one knows exactly when people first started putting rowels on spurs, the spur itself is believed to date back to the Roman empire, though you won't find them on any of the sculptures from the period.

brokeback_15.jpgBefore rowels, spurs sometimes had little pointy nubs on the ends of them, which eventually morphed into fixed disks before someone had the smart idea to get those wheels a turning. The fixed disk variety can be seen on the seal of Henry III and by the 14th century, the roweled spur was as standard as the horse itself.

If this post has spurred you on to come up with a better name for the rowel, it's that time again: Let's see what your smart readers can come up with. Drop your improved thingamajig name in the comments below. And if the Brokeback Mountain theme is now stuck in your head, I sincerely, really, honestly do apologize.


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