T is for Toot

600px-FartA toot is a fart. Onomatopoeia at its finest if you ask me. Writing about petrol the other day, I was reminded of this classic word which I first came across in Canada. Child 3, notorious at home for her expulsions, quickly shared her talents with the lovely Miss Sandra, her pre-school teacher. I heard the word being used by Child 3, however, as she role-played Miss Sandra’s pre-school classroom in her bedroom with her doll as her, approaching it in soft yet scolding tones and asking, “Maddie? Have you tooted?”

So what does that have to do with petrol? Nothing. But it has a lot to do with gas. Gas is petrol, but gas (hold onto your hats, people) is also wind. If I ask if a baby has wind, I get the oh-you-funny-Brit look. Internal wind is all gas. External wind is toot. With me?

Although I am sure that there are lots more words out there for fart that I’m not really appreciating, I have done a little research and am happy to share that fart is one of the oldest words in the English language, traceable back to Old English and Old High German and Old Norse. I particularly like one application of the word fart, which I found in Eric Partidge’s Dictionary of Slang. It’s farting-crackers. One from the late seventeenth century. Anyone care to define?

But back to modern life. It is a truth universally acknowledged that having children inevitably demands an increases one’s flatulent vocab. For us, apart from toot, we’ve talked a lot more about parping and trumping than we’d ever anticipated pre-children. And so I’m shocked to find out that according to my edition of the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (oh yes!), the word trump, meaning fart, was in usage from 1425-1798. I’d like to make a correction, please. It is alive and well in our house at least.

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