Real Spellers

English Makes Sense!

I have come to expect that I will learn something new everyday from the questions my students ask me about words.

Today a student asked me if the base of rehearse could be hearse.  I have learned not to jump to conclusions.  Just because my first glance tells me they are not related, it doesn't mean they aren't.  I told him, I didn't know, but that we could look them up to find out.  A wise tutor of mine has told me that the question is more important than the answer; true, I would never have thought of this connection without my students' intuition.

Surprise....

hearse Look up hearse at Dictionary.com
c.1300 (late 13c. in Anglo-Latin), "flat framework for candles, hung over a coffin," from O.Fr. herce "long rake, harrow," from M.L. hercia, from L. hirpicem (nom. hirpex) "harrow," from Oscan hirpus "wolf," supposedly in allusion to its teeth. Or the Oscan word may be related to L. hirsutus "shaggy, bristly." The funeral display so called because it resembled a harrow, a large rake for breaking up soil. For spelling, see head. Sense extended to other temporary frameworks built over dead people, then to "vehicle for carrying a body," a sense first recorded 1640s.
rehearse Look up rehearse at Dictionary.com
c.1300, "to give an account of," from Anglo-Fr. rehearser, O.Fr. rehercier "to go over again, repeat," lit. "to rake over," from re- "again" + hercier "to rake, harrow" (see hearse). Meaning "to say over again" is from mid-14c.; sense of "practice a play, part, etc." is from 1570s.


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