mariposa

The previous post connected Spanish mariquita ‘ladybug’ to Mary, whom Catholics refer to as Our Lady. Mary is also connected to a larger and even prettier insect, the butterfly, which Spanish calls a mariposa. That word was apparently created by combining María and the imperative of posar ‘to set down, place, pose, alight.’ Guido Gómez de Silva suggests that María may be a stand-in for ‘woman’ in general, and for support he points to babochka, the Russian word for ‘butterfly,’ which is a diminutive of the baba that means ‘woman.’

If we switch over to the botanical world, at least as English describes it, we have marigold. Old English called the flower just golde, based on the yellow-orange of the flowers. The reference to Mary was added in the Middle Ages.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

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If you encounter an unfamiliar technical term in any of these postings, check the Glossary in the bar across the top of the page.
©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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