more blitzin, blitzin or is it blitzen

To: "Geoffrey Dabb" <>
Subject: more blitzin, blitzin or is it blitzen
From: "martin butterfield" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2008 18:18:01 +1100
Not really about birds, other than in the Steptoesque slang use of the word, but I suspect Isak Dinesen's estate could be interested in the rhyme of Blixen and Vixen!  Watch for mail coming "Out of Africa"! 



On Mon, Oct 27, 2008 at 6:07 PM, Geoffrey Dabb <> wrote:

Whatever.  As I understand it, 'blitz' entered the English language as a shortening of 'blitzkrieg' ('lightning war') and came to mean, at least in Australian usage, 'any swift, vigorous attack on something viewed as a problem or on those responsible'.  In the modern fashion, the noun became also a verb, meaning 'to attack with a blitz'.


Now as to 'blitzen', my very small German-English dictionary tells me that this is a verb, meaning to flash or emit flashes.  Possibly, the word is also a plural form of a noun.  Curiously, the word is associated in English with the name of one of Santa's  reindeer.  The slightest dip into Google will bring to light that that name is said by some to be incorrect, the original name being 'Blixem', from the Dutch for 'lightning', a change to 'Blixen' being made by an early English writer to achieve a better rhyme with 'Vixen'.   Then, in 1844, a writer who knew German but not Dutch was puzzled by the word and changed it to 'Blitzen'.


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