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…,
- if you want to know the answer to that, look here: