Should we write “the wool wrench” or “the Allen key”?

Should we write “the wool wrench” or “the Allen key”?
Should we write “the wool wrench” or “the Allen key”?

There are world days for everything now. Well imagine, friends of words, that DIY is fast approaching! Are you handy? To be honest, the moment I set foot in a DIY store, I can’t help but yawn – it’s true!

A reflex. In short, it doesn’t interest me at all. But I just moved, and suddenly I’m faced with a whole bunch of unknown vocabulary… and when DIY becomes vocabulary, that interests me!

For example, when a friend who came to lend a hand asks for a “wool wrench”. By discreetly checking on the Internet, so as not to appear stupid, what this instrument with the strange name could possibly look like, I discovered an unexpected spelling… it’s not a wool key, like knitting wool – I admit, I suspected that a little.

The Allen key invented in 1943

It’s an Allen key, a proper name, that of the American company which invented this key in 1943. (If you are as ignorant as me, I’ll let you see what it looks like by typing the word on the Internet. You will see that you know the animal.)

In short, here I am immersed in the words of DIY, which are sometimes very mysterious, when you think about it. So, why is the monkey wrench English? Well quite simply because it was invented by an Englishman at the beginning of the 19th century. In English, moreover, it is not called monkey wrench, but monkey wrench, in reference to the name of its inventor, Charles Moncky.

Handsaw, selfish saw?

Ah, I took the opportunity to check why the name of the handsaw looks so much like the adjective self-centered. Well it’s not by chance: handsawas self-centeredderives from the Latin “I”, egoquite simply because we use it alone, this small saw, as opposed to these large saws which require two large lumberjacks in checkered shirts to operate.

And the word “DIY”? Where is he from ? Bricolage is a baby, on the scale of the history of language: he is not yet 100 years old. But it descends from a much older term, bricole, which arrived in French as early as the 14th century, and which you will never guess…

A small thing today is a small thing, but originally the word comes from the Italian briccola designating a large dangerous thing, the first war machine, in fact: a catapult! This meaning went out of use at the same time as the machine became obsolete, during the Renaissance, and tinkering gradually evolved towards the idea of ​​“ingeniously arranging something”.

Come on, word lovers, you have a few days left to review all this vocabulary just to be ready for DIY Day: it’s May 24!

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