Word for Wednesday: Nightmare 

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It doesn’t seem like such a stretch to assume the word nightmare is related to the English word mare which means 'female horse'. With ghost stories like that of the headless horseman, it doesn’t seem implausible that among the many weird connections and quirks in the English language there might be one about horses and sleeping. 

The mare in nightmare actually comes from the Proto-Germanic ‘maron’ meaning ‘goblin’. In German folklore a mare was an evil female spirit or goblin-like creature who suffocated men in their sleep.  Another archaic word for nightmare is incubus which is also the name of a mythological male demon who was believed to rape women while they were sleeping. 

Nightmare, in reference to the goblin, has been used in English since around 1300. From the mid-sixteenth century its meaning changed to refer specifically to the feeling of suffocation experienced by the sleeper. The first recorded use of nightmare in reference to ‘any bad dream’ was in 1829 and the word took on its metaphoric meaning of ‘any distressing experience’ from 1831. 



Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary

14 Aug 2019
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One of the students has put in a huge amount of effort in completing Spellzone at least 3 times a week since his arrival with us in January. Looking at his scores after the latest GL testing, his standardised score has risen from 99 to 131. This is a truly phenomenal result. I just wanted to share the best result I have ever seen.

Terrie Penrose-Toms, Casterton College