Wulf's Webden

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Gingerly

With today’s icy conditions, I stuck to roads rather than the cycle path and I cycled gingerly.

Which got me thinking that gingerly, meaning cautiously, seems odd. ‘Ginger’ is also used to signify red-heads who are stereotypically regarded as impetuous. Of course, that’s a hugely broad generalisation. Later, after safely cycling to and from work, I took a peek at the etymology of the word. It turns out that, unsurprisingly, it is debated but probably comes ultimately (*) from the Latin gentius (“well-born”… from which I imagine we also get gentleman and so forth) and, from the early 17th century, was being used in English to suggest caution.

Which is not a bad thing on icy roads!

(*) Ultimately as in can be traced back that far. Presumably there are etymologists who ask “where did the Latin come from”, possibly going mad in the process.

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