Word for Wednesday: Partridge

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'On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree!'

Although this bird takes centre stage in the famous Twelve Days of Christmas song, partridge is not a word you hear very often during the rest of the year. 

The twelve days in the song begin on Christmas Day and end on Twelfth Night (the evening of the fifth of January and the eve of Epiphany). While the song’s origins are unknown, the English version was first printed in 1780 in a book called Mirth without Mischief. The song was intended as memory game in which players were required to accurately recite a verse of poetry or risk a forfeit. Why not make you own version of the game this Christmas? Here are five mores ideas for word games to get you through the festive season. 

A partridge is game bird with a short tail, small wings, and brown plumage. 

The word dates back to the late-twelfth century and derives from Old French ‘perdis’ which in turn comes from the Latin ‘perdicem’. ‘Perdicem’ is probably related to the Greek ‘perdesthai’ which means ‘to break wind’. This is a reference to the whirring noise made by the bird’s wings, but I’m sure you can think another word that rhymes with ‘part’ and comes from the same origin!

What’s your favourite Christmas song?

18 Dec 2019
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