"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


A pothook is an S-shaped hook for hanging pots and kettles over an open fire.  But in a meaning almost fallen out of use nowdays it came to mean a written character resembling a pothook and, later, simply a scrawled written  character or a fancy one with extra squiggles on it. 

I have my own theory as to why the word came to be related to writing. Pothooks would have been made by the local blacksmith - each of whom would have had his own design.  So much as one person's writing varied from another so did pothooks.

"The pothooks straggled a little wildly across the page, as if written too hurriedly, on a pad balanced on someone’s knee." (Mary Stewart - "Touch not the Cat" 1976)


  1. Very interesting - and your theory sounds entirely believable to me.

  2. So glad that potluck brought me to your pothooks - and a reference to Mary Stewart!