Holiday, Holy day, hāligdæg, vacation

1hol·i·day noun \ˈhä-lə-ˌdā

  1. a period of exemption or relief. British usually (or Canadian, apparently) VACATION From Old English hāligdæg, from hālig holy + dæg day As today, used to represent both secular and religious events: hāligdæg – a day of exemption from work; hālig dæga religious festival
  2. a missed spotnautical OVERSIGHT 18th century reference to crew members sealing the seams of ships with tar (paying).  “A holiday is any part of a ship’s bottom, left uncovered in paying it,” Grose, Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1785. (From The Word Detective)
  3. parts left untouched. painting and other household tasks  LAPSE A missed spot in any task – the patch on the wall missed while painting, the strip of grass left longer than the rest on the lawn, the corner of dust left behind by the dust cloth (“Don’t leave any holidays.’” Jago, Dialect of Cornwall, 1882), or the smudge on your almost-clean windows.

I am taking a break from original post writing for the next couple of weeks—a little holiday, or a “period of exemption or relief.” 

It surprised me to read that holiday in that sense is a British turn of phrase, and that it would sound odd to American ears used to the word “vacation.” Who knew? I was enlightened to learn the other meanings of holiday: a missed spot or parts left untouched.

It seems inevitable that when one goes on holiday, spots must be missed and parts left untouched, but I’m going to do my best to prevent it. I am pre-scheduling posts to arrive in your email on Tuesdays and Fridays as usual. They will be some of my oldies-but-goodies recycled for your enjoyment.

Happy summer!



2 thoughts on “Holiday, Holy day, hāligdæg, vacation

  1. Chris

    Strikes me that “hāligdæg” sounds an awful lot like “Häagen-Dazs”. Likely for good reason. Enjoy your vacation Arlene, and we’ll enjoy the re-runs.


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