Last week, Rowyn was reading Amelia Bedelia, who classically misunderstands commands that include words with more than one meaning. Early on in the story, she’s working on a list of chores from her employer, who instructs her to “draw the drapes.” Naturally, she sits down with a marker and paper and draws those drapes.

I’m totally raising my kids up right–Rowyn asked, “Why does that word mean both things?”

So Mommy the Lover of Etymology replied, “I think it’s that draw means, ‘to pull across.’ So you draw the drapes closed, along their rods…or your draw your pencil across the page, which eventually got shortened just to draw. It’s also why drawers are called that–because you pull them out.”

Score one for Mommy, who was right on. 😉

Draw dates from about 1100, its meanings including both those things, plus to “draw a weapon.”

As a noun (specifically, when something like a game has no winner), it has existed since the 1600s, and in the sense of “something that will draw a crowd” from about 1881. To draw a blank is an expression that came about from the lotteries and dates from 1825.

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