Apr. 26th, 2017

helve

Apr. 26th, 2017 07:46 am
prettygoodword: text: words are sexy (Default)
helve (HELV) - n., the handle of an ax, hatchet, hammer, or the like.


Better known to me as the haft, though Robert Frost (or rather, a New England farmer depicted by him) uses helve. This goes back to Old English helfe/hielfe, handle of an axe or other tool or weapon, related to both halter and helm via the PIE root *kelp-, to hold/grasp. In Middle English, "holden the axe bi the helve" was an idiom for to take something by the right end, and "throw the helve after the hatchet" means to throw away what remains because your losses are too great (as in, lose the ax-head, throw the handle after it in disgust).

---L.

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