Fortnight

so i married an axe murdererWhile listening to NPR today, a foreign reporter used the word fortnight. And I thought, ah now there’s a good word. Fortnight. Most likely I first heard the word while reading Shakespeare in the 8th grade (did we start Shakespeare in the 8th grade?) The Online Etymology Dictionary tells us it’s from the 17th century, and that it’s a, “contraction of Middle English fourteniht, from Old English feowertyne niht, literally “fourteen nights,” preserving the ancient Germanic custom of reckoning by nights, mentioned by Tacitus in “Germania””. Okay, simple enough. But seriously…doesn’t this sound like a word that should have fallen out of fashion? But oddly, it hasn’t, and I love that. It sounds magical and special. And it reminds me of a line from one of my favorite films, “So, I married an Axe Murderer.” Mike Myers, playing the main character’s father (also played by Mike Myers), is a sassy Scottish bloke with some odd beliefs. He has this to say about Colonel Sanders, and why KFC chicken is so popular: “Because he puts an addictive chemical in his chicken that makes ya crave it fortnightly, smartass!” See the clip here. So next time you’re going to discuss something that happens in two weeks, replace that with fortnight. For example, “I’ve got a lot to do to prepare for a big meeting in a fortnight.” I promise you’ll be far more excited about the meeting or that trip to the dentist.

 

 

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