Gone beyond the buzz

Spending each day outside in the garden, I don't much notice the buzz of bees any more. They are just doing their job, same as me. Late this afternoon it seemed like a loud and large bee was right behind my ear. Nope. It was a drone.

It looked like this one.

And why doesn't drone rhyme with gone? And can just anybody fly a drone over a public space for photographic or world domination purposes? I won't go on and on, but I love this entry from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

drone (n.) Look up drone at Dictionary.com
Old English dran, dræn "male honeybee," from Proto-Germanic *dran- (cognates: Middle Dutch drane; Old High German treno; German Drohne, which is from Middle Low German drone), probably imitative; given a figurative sense of "idler, lazy worker" (male bees make no honey) 1520s. Meaning "pilotless aircraft" is from 1946.
Drones, as the radio-controlled craft are called, have many potentialities, civilian and military. Some day huge mother ships may guide fleets of long-distance, cargo-carrying airplanes across continents and oceans. Long-range drones armed with atomic bombs could be flown by accompanying mother ships to their targets and in for perfect hits. ["Popular Science," November, 1946]
Meaning "deep, continuous humming sound" is early 16c., apparently imitative (compare threnody). The verb in the sound sense is early 16c.; it often is the characteristic sound of airplane engines. Related:Droneddroning.

The big debate at work was over the pronunciation of potable. I caught some dragonfly and damselfly larvae for a late morning presentation. I did not want anybody to accidentally drink the water containing the larvae. That's when folks started taking sides. I say potable, you say potable. Let's call the whole thing off!*

Due to rains and flooding of the Big Blue River near Milford, huge barrels of potable water were trucked into Camp Kiwanis for the Camp Fire Girls to drink in the summer of 1966.


 adjective \ˈpō-tə-bəl\
: safe to drink

Comment: The adjective meaning "drinkable" rhymes with "floatable" and is not to be confused with the one that means "capable of being potted."

© 2014 Nancy L. Ruder


Kim said...

new word for this year: dronable

Kathleen said...

Thanks for setting me straight on so many things!