I recently became aware of a personal prejudice about two very common words. On some level, I’ve always known it existed, but only of late have I addressed the truth head-on. So I thought I’d share my opinion on the subject with you.
FOOT VS FEET
I have a thing about the human foot.
No, not the kind of thing you’re thinking about. Foot provokes a mental image of a calf tapering to a slender ankle before curving into a smooth heel which gives way to a high arch, succeeded by a ball, and culminating in long, graceful toes. Something altogether appropriate for display or discussion in polite society. It is an immensely serviceable – indispensable, even – part of the human anatomy.
But feet? Ugh.
Maybe it’s my Oklahoma upbringing, but the word feet conveys a pair of big appendages of dry, cracked and flaking skin with yellowed, twisted claw-like nails growing awkwardly on the bottom of an individual's legs. They are things that constantly get caught on furniture or in the door and often carry an odor ranging from faint to offensive.
For example, the mention of a young lass sitting with a foot trailing in the water is pleasant, pastoral … idyllic, even. A woman with both feet in the water is more like a crone trolling for minnows with ten wiggly, wormy toes.
The thought of an amorous foot inching up your thigh in tender moments is exciting and erotic. But two feet planted in your crotch loses some of the romance.
I’m beginning to think my prejudice may be shared by more people than I originally believed. A look in the dictionary shows the word “foot” is followed by some thirty-nine references with foot as a part of the word or appended to another word. A check of “feet” revealed none. Think about the following examples.
· Football or feetball. Who’d want to play with a feetball?
· Footpath vs feetpath. I’d walk on the verge to avoid all those stinky prints.
· I love a foot-long hot dog, but a feet-long dog? I don’t think so.
· I live in the foothills but wouldn’t be caught dead in the feethills.
· When meeting strangers, a six-footer is impressive; a six feeter, frightening.
· Footmen means something totally different from feetmen, or so I would imagine.
· Underfoot certainly conveys something dissimular from underfeet. (Briefs or boxers?)
· I’d salute a brave foot soldier, but I’m not sure a feet soldier deserves the same respect.
· Would a footlight be the same as a feetlight?
· I enjoy a good footstool but don’t believe I’d use a feetstool. Well, maybe. If I called it an ottoman.
· Sometimes I lose my footing. Not even certain I’d search for my feeting.
· And surely foot loose is not the same as feet loose.
I could go on, but by now you surely follow my reasoning. So I’d like to suggest we expunge the word “feet” from dictionaries, thesauri, spelling books, literature, and general conversation. Instead, I suggest we substitute the following terms:
To refer to a foot as a duo, how about “a pair of foots”
To denote more than one foot, let’s try “footsies”
After all, who could possibly conceive of footsies as being the least bit smelly?
Hope you got a chuckle or two out of this. Otherwise, it was just a case of jumping into a situation footsies first. Thanks for reading. Be happy to hear from you.
New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.