What is a pillow? Is it the thing you put your head on when you go to bed a night? Yes? Thought so.
But over here in the US it can be more. It can be this:
These are pillows but they are not just pillows. They are throw pillows. I found this picture on a blog with a post called Our 9 Favorite Throw Pillows and although I’m not sure I’d agree with their statement: “Aren’t throw pillows just the greatest?” I will happily concede that these nine are pretty lovely.
Indeed they are much better than any cushions – at a push, scatter cushions or maybe decorative cushions – that I found yesterday, on a failed mission to find pretty square cushions for our new sofas (couches). But I did find the following sign:
If you don’t know what I mean – and according to my research sample of one person, if you are American you won’t – then I would like to refer you to here, at the Urban Dictionary. That should set you straight and avoid any blushing on my part.
But why pillow in one nation and cushion in another? Both are old, venerable words. The word pillow originates in the Latin word pulvinus which became the Old English word pyle. And cushion also owes its roots to Rome, coming from a different word for a hip cushion – coxinum – which became cuissin in Old French and cushion in English. Not that any of that explains why cushions are pillows in the US but not in the UK, but I liked it anyway.
One other thought about pillows. Surfing about pillows and their history, I came across the fact (previously unknown to me) that in 14th century China, pillows were commonly made of porcelain. Here is a photo of one:
And the funny thing about these porcelain pillows is that they immediately remind me of something else – very popular here and originating in the States in about 2003, although I believe you can get them over in the UK now too. I hate them, even though Child 2 and Child 3 have one each. Or maybe I don’t hate the pillows. Maybe it’s just the stupid slogan. Which is….
Please just shoot me now.