Posts Tagged ‘hem and haw’

Hem and Haw

“I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”  —  Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

I hemmed and hawed about continuing on the trail when I saw this baby guarding it. Wisely I reversed my direction. — Photo by Pat Bean

Huh and Um

I have this idea list of blog topics. Every time something pops into my mind that intrigues me, I add it to the list, which by now is several pages long.

This morning, sitting in front of a blank page on my computer screen with a mind that seemed to have nothing to say, I got out the list. As I skimmed through it, I came to the words hem and haw. I had no idea where this idea came from. It must have been on my list a long time.

Not sure where it would lead me, but I decided to give it a shot.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, hem is an interjectional utterance like a slight half cough, used to attract attention, the same sound depicted by the interjection “ahem. The verb “to hem” dates to the 15th century. “Haw,” which dates back to the 1600s, is another case of a word imitating a sound, in this case “as an expression of hesitation.

The dictionary went on to note that today we are more likely to say “uh,” “huh,” or “um” when faced with a sudden decision, but the feeling is the same.

Briefly, that’s it, and now you know as much as I do about hemming and hawing, which evidently is what I was doing trying to come up with a blog topic.

Or perhaps you know more. If so, this writer who loves words and is always curious as a cat, would like to know, too.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Santa Clause and Bruce Springsteen This should put you in the mood for Christmas. It did me.  https://theimmortaljukebox.com/2017/12/13/christmas-alphabet-s-for/

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  You can contact her at patbean@msn.com


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