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Cunnin Cute

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A Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, listener notes that the word cunning is sometimes used to describe a cute baby. In the 14th century, this adjective had to do with the idea of knowing, and eventually also acquired the meaning of quaint or charming. The word cute itself followed a somewhat similar path, deriving from acute, meaning sharp or knowledgeable. This is part of a complete episode.

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1 comment
  • Yes, most likely related to old norse. There are clues in the modern nordic languages. The infinitive “to know (as in to know how to do something)” is “att kunna” in Swedish. The adjective form is kunnig, which means capable, knowledgeable, clever.

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