August 20, 2012
coddle (verb)
\KAH-dul\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: to treat with extreme care : pamper
How do you use it?
"Big Ma was not one for coddling any of us, but now she turned from the stove and, wiping her hands on her long white apron, sat down on the bench and put her arm around Little Man." (Mildred D. Taylor, _Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry_)
Are you a word wiz?

The "pamper" sense of "coddle" comes from an earlier meaning that had to do with a special kind of careful treatment given to something delicate. What do you think was treated so carefully?

We're not going to coddle you, just tell you that A is the right answer. When "coddle" first came to be part of the English language around 1600, the word meant to cook something slowly and gently in water that is just below the boiling point. Usually eggs are what's being cooked when "coddle" is used in this sense today, but when "coddle" was first being used, other foods, especially fruit, were also cooked by coddling. Because coddling is a very gentle way to cook something, such gentle treatment led to the extended meaning of "to treat with extreme care, pamper."
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