Posted by: episystechpubs | December 11, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Deck the Halls

On Sunday, my husband and I went over to our friends’ house, where we celebrated Hanukkah and ate latkes. (Latkes are made of a shredded potato mixture, fried into a little “pancake” of sorts, and served with sour cream and apple sauce. Delicious!) We aren’t Jewish, but we are always up for trying new things, especially celebratory things!

The house we were in belongs to a family who celebrates Christmas, and I noticed that they had “decked the halls” with boughs of some type of evergreen. And that brings me to the word of the day: deck. Usually, when I hear deck, I don’t think of it as a verb. I think of the noun version, like a deck of cards or a deck on a house. Here are some etymologies of both the noun and verb use. No matter what holidays you celebrate, now you will know what it means when you deck your halls with any kind of decoration! From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

deck (noun)

mid-15c., dekke, "covering extending from side to side over part of a ship," from a nautical use of Middle Dutch dec, decke "roof, covering," from Proto-Germanic *thakam (source also of thatch (n.)), from PIE root *(s)teg- "to cover."

Sense extended early in English from "covering" to "platform of a ship."

Meaning "pack of cards necessary to play a game" is from 1590s, perhaps because they were stacked like decks of a ship.

Tape-deck (1949) is in reference to the flat surface of old reel-to-reel tape recorders.

Deck-chair (1844) so called because they were used on ocean liners. On deck (by 1740) was in nautical use especially "ready for action or duty;" extended sense in baseball, of a batter waiting a turn at the plate, is by 1867. To clear the deck (1852) is to prepare a ship for action; it is perhaps a translation of French débarasser le pont.

deck (verb 1)

"adorn, array or clothe with something ornamental" (as in deck the halls), early 15c., from Middle Dutch decken "to cover, put under roof."

deck (verb 2)

"to knock down," by 1955, probably from deck (n.) on the notion of laying someone out on a ship’s deck. Compare floor (v.) "to knock down." Related: Decked; decking.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services


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