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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Don’t oaf-rock your kids

Let Grow, which hopes to restore “childhood resilience by fighting the urge to overprotect,” urges Americans to reclaim a

In a story on Paul Anthony Jones’ book, The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities, the BBC reports on lost words such as “frowst,” which is “19th-Century schoolboy slang word for ‘extra time spent in bed on a Sunday’.” Lie too long in bed and you’ll feel “frowsty.”

“Oaf-rocked” comes from Yorkshire dialect, meaning “weak as an adult due to a sheltered or pampered childhood.”

Jones explains:

Oaf here is either a corruption of ‘half’ (in the sense that a weak adult was only ‘half-rocked’, or improperly cared for as a child), or ‘elf ’ (derived from an old piece of folklore that claims elves would steal human children and replace them with their own ‘changelings’).

“Oaf” and “elf” come from the old Norse “alfr” meaning elf’s child, changeling, halfwit, silly person or deformed idiot. Nowadays, we think of elves as small and cute and oafs as big and clumsy.

Anyhow, don’t oaf-rock your children.

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