Fun Etymology Tuesday – Cloud

Metaphor is a powerful tool: sometimes it can distort the meaning of a word to the point of transforming it in a whole different word.
In today’s Fun Etymology we’re going to explore just one such word: “cloud”.

The word “cloud” begins its journey as the Old English word “clud”, meaning “hill” or “pile of rocks”. Somewhere along the way, someone must have noticed how clouds in the sky kinda look like big hills made of fluffy white stuff, and started calling them “hills”, perhaps as a witticism or joke. Eventually, the name stuck, and by Middle English it had almost completely substituted the original Old English word for “cloud”, “weolcan”.

Old words are hard to die, though, and the old word still survives in poetry, where it’s now taken the form “welkin”.

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