Wednesday, 28 September 2016

What's in the attic?

A minor disagreement over whether the thing through the hatch at the top of the stairs and under the roof was a loft or an attic got me wondering where the words came from.

Loft entered our language with the vikings. The word comes from the Old Norse Lopt (pronounce the 'p' more like an 'f'), meaning 'upper chamber, region of sky, or air', and the Old English loft means pretty much the same thing, but leaning slightly towards the 'air/sky' than the upper chamber. My archaeological knowledge of Anglo-Saxon isn't amazing, but I'm not sure how many of them had upper chambers...

The word Attic (thanks witionary), comes from practice of decorating the top of facades in the style of Attic architecture.

I'm not sure the Anglo-Saxons had a room at the top of their houses stuffed full with junk they might need one day or can't bear to part with, but if they did, it's more likely to have been a loft than an attic.