Cowl – I nearly did a silly thing

A couple of days ago I wrote a blog about chimneys, and nearly made a very silly error – not a typo but a mistake, and almost wrote cowell instead of cowl. Cowell is a surname of course, and may have originated from Cowhill – the name of places in Oldbury-on-Severn, Chadderton near Manchester, Aberdeenshire and Derbyshire.

Cowl – which is what I meant to write, is a hood; I was writing about a chimney cowl which is something fitted to the top of a chimney or a flue, as bird guards, or to increase the updraught/decrease the down downdraughts, or to stop too much rain getting in. I discovered that there is also a  cowl in a car; it’s the front part of the frame and supports the back part of the bonnet and the windscreen, as well as the dashboard, pedals and the instrument panel and so separates the inside and the engine.

I was so focused on the chimney cowl I was writing about, I forgot that it actually originated from a word meaning hood, like a monk’s cowl. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess it comes from the French, coule which derives from Latin, cuculla. I couldn’t have guessed cuculla came from an old Celtic word, cucullus and I definitely could never have guessed that cucullus sprang from a Greek word, koukoula… which means hood!!

Now we have some very obscure questions in the pub quiz, but I don’t imagine we will ever get one about cowl/Cowell/Cow Hill/ or the derivation of cowl from French/Latin/Celtic/Greek! However, if we eer do – I will be there, on the button!

… now I wonder where ‘on the button‘ comes from…,


  1. David Lewis

    If you put a cowl on the top of the chimney you dramatically reduce the effect of Bernoullis principal which draws the smoke upwards.Better to put a grate across to keep the birds out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      I’ve never heard of that, but it makes sense! We have a whirling cowl so I don’t know if that’s better – we did have a grate but the birds kept dropping things down it and then one of them got through… we’ve had no probs since the cowl though!


  2. David Lewis

    When you suck on a straw you create a low pressure on one end of the straw and atmospheric pressure then being higher actually pushes the liquid up into your mouth. Hard concept to wrap your arms around. I loved the chance to become an instrument technician as well as an electronic tech. because I couldn’t be had anymore. It was fun going to work and I miss it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      Hi David, sorry I didn’t reply to this – WordPress has been playing silly b*****s and I couldn’t see comments -_- I never knew that about straws – I thought it was to do with pulling the liquid! Gosh I learn something everyday with you!


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