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Word of the day: ros (steed)

This week I have been discussing equestrian words like HENGST (stallion), MERRIE (mare) and VEULEN (filly). These words turned out to be some of the oldest recorded words in the Dutch language. The first Germanic king of England was a warrior with the proud name of HENGEST. His twin brother HORSA died during their first battle against the celtic picts.

RosHORSA and Dutch ROS (steed) are clearly related. The Dutch word PAARD is a contraction of the Latin word ‘paraveredus’ which means ‘mail horse’. In the Middle Ages a ROS (steed) was a valuable horse and a PAARD (horse) a pack or a draught animal. Nevertheless ‘palafredus’ was related to the stylish French ‘palefroi’ (parade horse) and English ‘palfrey’ (ambler). So Dutch PAARD, French ‘palefroi’ and English ‘palfrey’ are family… A ‘groom’ is a ‘palfrenier’.

There are many expressions with PAARD in them. Here are a few:

werken als een paard -> work like a horse
zo sterk als een paard -> as strong as a horse
honger hebben als een paard -> (lit. be hungry like a horse) feel one could eat a horse
het beste paard van stal vergeten -> (lit. forget the best horse in the stable) forget the best of the bunch
aan een dood paard trekken -> beat or flog a dead horse
je moet niet alles op één paard zetten -> don’t put all your eggs in one basket
over het paard getild zijn -> (lit. be lifted over the horse) be puffed up
het paard achter de wagen spannen -> set the cart before the horse (make a mess)
een gegeven paard moet men niet in de mond zien -> never look a gift horse in the mouth
op het verkeerde paard wedden -> back the wrong horse

Tomorrow it’s Valentine’s Day and I’ll tell you all you want to know about the word that is known to all men and treat you to a wonderful love poem.

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