2.17.2012

Doldrums

February is just blah. I'm sorry to say it, but it's true. 

One of my favorite etymologies is that of 'doldrums'. 


It first appeared in the early 19th century, derived from 'dull' and analogous in form to 'tantrum'. The Oxford English Dictionary gives two early definitions:


a) A condition of dullness or drowsiness; dumps, low spirits, depression.
b) A dullard; a dull, drowsy, or sluggish fellow

What I really love, though, is that the word then became associated with a specific region of the ocean where the trade winds cancel each other out. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner describes this zone:


Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.



This is what February feels like to me. Stuck. Knowing that spring is on the horizon, knowing that the academic year will come to a close sooner than we are ready... motionless, waiting for something to happen.

Sources: 
Oxford English Dictionary online version December 2011. <http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/56557>; accessed 17 February 2012. 
"Doldrums." Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doldrums> accessed 17 February 2012.



3 comments:

Cathryn said...

I like this! Nothing like a good etymology to get you thinking and appreciating a word.

Amelia Hohl said...

You know what really helps February? A Birthday. If you can plan to have a baby in February, it makes a big difference. I feel like I have had a lot of fun and a ton to do this month with my dad's Birthday at the beginning and Henry's Birthday at the end. Being in Utah also helps because there are so many outdoor activities in Utah during the winter. I'm definitely not as bored as I was in Pittsburgh.

Señora H-B said...

Ooh, Amelia, you're totally right! It was so much fun to call my dad/brothers and chat on their birthdays.

I'm glad to hear that Utah is doing good things for you!!