So, cute story. Way back when Xoe was just a little miniature thing (as opposed to now, when she’s quickly closing the gap between our heights and wearing my shoes!!!!!), I read her the Little Quack books. In one, Little Quack is playing hide and seek with his brothers and sisters, but he can’t think of a place to hide–so he hides behind Mama Duck, swimming right behind her, in her blind spot, while she finds everyone else. But she can’t find him, until finally she calls out for him, and he says, “Here I am, Mama!”
Ever since I read her that book when she was two, Xoe has liked to play “duckling.” She would try to hide behind me as I moved around, usually ruining her stealth with giggles…and with the fact that I’m not a duck with that particular blind spot, LOL. But she still does it–and I knew well she didn’t remember why, given how long it’s been since we’ve read Little Quack. I was telling her about the origins of that particular playful habit on Friday night, explaining that’s why I call her “my little duckling” when she does it. She didn’t remember the why, but Rowyn sure thought it was hilarious that his sister was acting unknowingly like a duck…and then asked why in the world we call them ducks.
I, in my wisdom, said, “I don’t know. Maybe because they duck and dive under the water?”
Rowyn: “Well not always, Mommy. Only when they’re eating.”
Smart little fella. 😉 Anyway, naturally I went and looked it up. And happily, I was right! Duck is from the Old England ducan, which means “to duck, to dive.” So the verb really did come first, and then it was applied to the waterfowl. For hundreds of years it carried that water-associated meaning only. You ducked under the water, but you didn’t duck to avoid a ball flying at your head. The “to bend, stoop quickly” meaning didn’t come until the 1520s–several hundred years after the “dive” meaning.