Posted by: Jack Henry | April 17, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Old Coot

Good morning, and happy Monday to you all!

Recently, I wrote a post and used the term old coot in one of my examples. One of our esteemed subscribers commented on the term and got me to thinking. Where does old coot come from, and what does it mean exactly?

A quick search on Merriam-Webster revealed that the word coot is of Dutch origin and that the first known use was in the 15th century. Here are the definitions:

1. Any of various slaty-black birds (genus Fulica) of the rail family that somewhat resemble ducks and have lobed toes and the upper mandible prolonged on the forehead as a horny frontal shield

2. Any of several North American scoters [dbb – A scoter is a type of sea duck; the males have chiefly black plumage]

3. A harmless simple person

Merriam-Webster provides this further definition for English language learners:

· A strange and unusually old man

And the Harper Collinsdictionary offers this definition:

· An amusing or eccentric old fellow

During this quick research project, I learned two things. First, the actual meaning of coot isn’t as derogatory as I thought. Second, at least in these two dictionaries, a coot is used primarily to describe an old man.

I used it to refer to a mean old woman, so I was off base on two counts.

Coot − A duck-like, fresh water bird.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

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