Posted by: episystechpubs | April 29, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Spit

Hello folks!

I just returned from a brief visit to the Pacific Northwest to spend some time with my family. As I pondered topics for today, I thought I’d find an answer to a question I had while up there. My mom, brother, and I spent one of our days doing a 10-mile hike on the beach to the Dungeness Spit.

Here is my question: Why is such a pretty place named after saliva or something you put a goat on during Orthodox Easter?

According to Merriam-Webster, a spit is “a small point of land commonly consisting of sand or gravel deposited by waves and currents and running into a body of water.” Okay, but that isn’t enough for me. What is the background of the word?

Hopping to the Online Etymology Dictionary, I found that the land mass and the roasting stake share the same etymology:

spit (noun): "sharp-pointed rod for roasting meat," late Old English spitu "a spit," from Proto-Germanic *spituz (cognates: Middle Dutch and Dutch spit, Swedish spett (which perhaps is from Low German), Old High German spiz, German Spieß "roasting spit," German spitz "pointed"), from PIE *spei- "sharp point" (see spike). This is also the source of the word meaning "sandy point" (1670s).

Here is the Dungeness Spit. With the Olympic mountain range behind us and the little town of Sequim nearby, it isn’t terribly pointy, but it sure is pretty.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

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