I live in a house with both a man and cats. So naturally, the debate about which came first, whisker for a man’s facial hair or whisker for the long, sensitive hairs on a cat’s face, has come up. (Yeah, okay, so my family’s all weird, LOL. Or my word-nerd ways have rubbed off on them. We do seriously have these sorts of conversations on a daily basis.)
First, a bit about where they came from in general. Whisker comes directly from whisk–“to move with a sweeping motion.” Interesting, the noun whisk is from the late 1300s, while the verb is from the late 1400s. It wasn’t until around 1600 that whisker came into being, as a playful form of whisk–a thing that sweeps. And it was attributed first to…
Ready for the answer? 😉
Men’s facial hair! It took another 70 years or so for it to be applied to animals.
Which does make me wonder what it was called on animals before that? Anyone know?