Word of the Day Archive
Wednesday June 15, 2011
1. An odd fancy or whimsical notion.
2. A small hook.
3. In British musical nomenclature, a quarter note.
4. A curved surgical instrument with a sharp hook.
A hundred years ago denial of the existence of witchcraft was considered all right thinking people, from Addison downwards, a wrong-headed crotchet.
-- Henry Strickland Constable, Observations suggested the cattle plague: about witchcraft, credulity
Some fatalities come in certain shapes, and some in others - but this of which I speak has come in the shape of a vaporous crotchet.
-- Edgar Allan Poe, The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherezade
Crotchet stems from the Middle English term for a staff with a hook at the end. The sense of whimsy most likely derives from its other meaning as a hook-shaped musical note.