Episode 62: Flesh and Blood

In this episode we explore two aspects of the term ‘flesh and blood.’ We examine the human body from the perspective of the Anglo-Saxons by looking at their words for parts of the body. We also explore Old English words associated with sickness and disease. At the same time, we consider how the term ‘flesh and blood’ is utilized to describe one’s children or other very close relatives. Specifically, we examine the mothers who fought to secure the English throne for their respective flesh and blood following the death of King Cnut in 1035.


12 thoughts on “Episode 62: Flesh and Blood

  1. Hello! I stumbled on your podcast while I was doing research for a class I’m taking on the History of the English language. Your insights have added a lot to what I’m already learning. Thank you so much. But, I have a question: on podcast 62, you mention a PIE root-word with the meaning “to expand or increase.” It sounds as if you are pronouncing it with a b, but I can’t make out the word. Would you mind telling me what the word is so that I can do more research on it for myself? Thank you!

  2. Hi Kevin –
    Thoroughly enjoying your podcast !! Just finished episode 62; BUT !!! what happened to the agreement Hartha Canute has with Magnus, King of Norway ?

    • Keep listening. That agreement is discussed briefly in the next episode, but it played a crucial role in the events of the year 1066 (covered in Episode 67). It effectively gave the Norwegian king a claim to the English throne which was asserted in 1066. The last Anglo-Saxon king (Harold) had to deal with an invasion by the Norwegian king in the north of England at almost the exact same time that William the Conqueror was invading the south. Those back-to-back invasions sealed the fate of the Anglo-Saxons – and allowed the Normans to complete their conquest.

  3. A great episode as always. I just wanted to point out that dumb meaning mute is still a good deal more common in Britain than in America. The meaning as stupid wasn’t actually very common until recently, and it came in mainly via American media, so the original meaning hasn’t died out in the same way as over there,

  4. Hi Kevin I can’t tell you how much your course means to me. It’s a true delight. Ever since the age of 6 when I tried to explain to my incredulous, elderly first grade teacher in Canada about the obvious linguistic connection between “school” and “shul” ( the old Yiddish word we retained in my English-speaking family to refer to a synagogue) I’ve had a passion for etymology. Also as Canadians in the 50’s we were stuffed full of English history, and your great presentation so nicely fills in the gaps.
    One thought: the gezuntheit response to a sneeze may be related to the belief that when you sneezed your soul (wind = spirit) added to Adam’s body at creation temporarily leaves your body. ” Bless you” is a similar type of response.

  5. Fascinating series. Gesundheit is not used in Britain when someone sneezes. I’m 69 and it’s completely new to me. We always say ‘Bless you’

    • Hi Stella. It’s interesting that British English doesn’t use “Gesundheit” at all. It’s very common in American English. I’m 65, and I’ve heard it pretty much all my life.

    • I learned “gesundheit” from my grandparents who grew up with immigrant parents who spoke Yiddish. When I briefly lived in the UK I said it a couple times to co-workers and they were very confused. So I switched to “bless you”.

  6. I grew up with the phrase “shanks’s pony”. To use shanks’s pony is to walk. It seems to be a Scottish phrase. I always wondered where it came from – I more know about the first word!

  7. Dear Kevin, thoroughly enjoying this series.
    About the word for pain..ang, you say it has disappeared from modern English. The phrase the pangs of death came to mind….is that related to ang?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.