Friday, September 11

Lukewarm. Have you ever wondered about the derivation of that word? I had never given it more than a passing thought, but recently, when mr. kenju asked about it, I found this, from ABC Newsradio:

Lukewarm

A listener emails to ask for the origin of the expression “lukewarm”. It would be lovely if there was a story here about a certain Sir Luke of Warwick whose support of King John vacillated somewhat – sometimes he was hot for the King, and keen on supporting his cause, and then on other occasions his enthusiasm ran cold...“wandering about like brown’s cows” means ambling around like a drunk. And that is the most likely source.

It would be nice if there was such a story, but it’s not the case.

The word lukewarm goes back to the Middle English of the 13th century. Tracing it back any further than that appears to be difficult – or, at least, the experts disagree, and start muttering things about “origin uncertain”. However, it seems more than likely that the Middle English expression derives from an earlier Old English word lew (or hleow) meaning “mild”. Hence, lukewarm is (literally, in terms of its derivation) “mild-warm” – a delightful expression, although one that sounds a little odd to modern ears.


Our interest in the word was prompted by the usage of our recently acquired Neti Pot. I had a teaser in yesterday's post about it, but not many people replied. (So, why am I writing about it today?!) If you are interested in it, you might want to go back and see that link also, from WebMD. Our daughter, plagued by sinus troubles, bought two of them (one for us). Mr. kenju and I had read about them numerous times, but were reticent to take the plunge. I hate getting water up my nose in swimming pools - so why would I want to put it in there on purpose ??? But having one at my disposal, I read the directions, filled it with the prescribed lukewarm water and stirred in one of the small packets of saline solution that came with the pot.

The first time I tried it, the sensation was a little unpleasant, but after that I didn't mind it at all. I quickly learned that making certain you have allowed the water to drain out before standing upright is important. About 2 hours after I tried it the first time, I ducked my head while getting into my car and was nonplussed to see (and feel) water rushing from my nose in a torrent! I was happy that there was no one in the car with me - otherwise it would have been fairly embarrassing. After that, I tried to make sure that I stood over the sink with my head down until all the water drains out.

Is it efficacious? Most definitely. I had been having sinus headaches for weeks before I tried it, and while they haven't completely gone away, they have been less frequent and of less intensity. For the first time in ages, I can sleep most nights without a "Breathe R*ght" bandage on my nose. If you are having nasal problems, I think you may want to investigate a Neti Pot.

So where does "lukewarm" come into it? Last week, mr. kenju saw the Neti Pot on our sink, and asked if it was "his". I said, well, it can be.....meaning I had already used it and there was still some water in it that he was welcome to use. He asked what I meant by saying "It can be." Long story short, it turns out that he thought we each had a neti pot, and on learning that we only had one to share, he was a bit grossed out by knowing that he had put something up his nostrils that had recently been in mine. I had to laugh. Don't married couples share lots of things (and body orifices) like that???

After that, he decided that he ought to use sterile water when he did the nasal irrigation. The directions that came with our pot say to use sterile or distilled water, but that's a pain in the neck ; requiring boiling it and letting it cool. Do you know how hard it is to get water to a temperature considered "lukewarm" in a microwave? It's next to impossible. So tap water is the way to go, in my opinion. If you think that your tap water has cleanliness issues - then by all means use some method to get sterile water - but ours is fine (having been tested several times) - so I use that. When he decided to prepare his own pot, he asked me what temperature "lukewarm" was - and that's how I got on the subject. I think I've known what was meant by 'lukewarm' since I was a child, and it was odd to me that he didn't really know. But now we know the derivation of the word as well.


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On this 9-11, I offer my continuing sympathy to the families and friends of those who were injured or lost their lives.






12 comments:

Shiny Rod said...

Now I know what a Neti Pot is. You can get distilled water at any grocery store and sterile water is available at most pharmacies.

PI said...

One of the nose's functions is to filter out impurities (all those little hairs) so tap water should be fine.
Funny how men can be so fussy about some things and gross about others:)
I'd say luke warm was body temperature. You can always dip your elbow in to make sure it isn't too hot. I suppose you just need to take the chill off. Glad it works.

Arkansas Patti said...

I adore ...“wandering about like brown’s cows” and have added it to my saying list.
As for the Neti Pot, I too have sinus problems but can not for the life of me conceive of flushing them with water. I saw Oprah use one but am still not convinced. That irrational fear of drowning thing.
Too funny about mr. being grossed out. Go figure.

Star said...

My sinuses are terrible, but I am not sure I am brave enough for the Neti. You are not the first person to have told me it does have somw positive effects.

Evil Twin's Wife said...

The Evil Twin is the same way about me sharing something of his, but thinks nothing of it to use something personal of mine - like a trimmer or pedi-egg. I just laugh. And, I'm dying to try a neti pot, but I'm worried I'd mess up somehow...Guess I won't know 'til I try, huh?

Darlene said...

This is all new to me, but since post nasal drip has become a problem I think I should investigate a Neti Pot.

The origination of words is a fascinating subject. Thanks for the lesson on luke warm.

Dianne said...

everyone tells me to get one but I still hesitate
I always picture myself drowning myself LOL

I love learning the origins of words and phrases

Grannymar said...

I thought a Neti Pot was for the garden. Not sure I would want to try it.

David said...

good morning, to you and your nasal passages

Anonymous said...

Have used a neti pot but find I have the same results with less mess and more convenience with Spry nasal spray. No more nasal drip and cough. And no more Breath Right strips at night.
Genie

Anonymous said...

Ooops.That should be Xlear (pronounced clear) nasal spray.
Genie

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

I use a nasal irrigator, too, in the winter when all my respiratory problems come to the fore. I don't like using it but it does help.