Sunday, 5 October 2008


Ah, how the futuristic bradshaw brightens my day; on this occasion by informing me that the Old English for 'to sneeze' was fnēosan -- a word preferable in every way to the present sibilent-topended term. I shall start a petition to have this splendid, expressive word returned to the common anglophone vocabulary.

It makes me think, though: I can't recall reading about any character from Old English, or Middle English literature who sneezes. I can't remember any sneezes from the Renaissance, but assume there are some (there must be a cold-afflicted miser in some Jonsonian or Middletonian comedy). Who is the first figure in English literature to sneeze, I wonder?

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