Yesterday afternoon, we found ourselves wandering through the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. The Five-Year-Old was thrilled to explore the Leventhal Map Center, but was markedly less appreciative of the Sargent murals. (I enjoyed both.)
On our way home, I was reflecting out loud on the possibility of commuting in to Boston every morning to write in one of the Boston Public Library’s reading rooms. I had just decided against it on the grounds that I would write more efficiently tucked away in one of our local library’s nooks and crannies instead of at the Boston’s library’s long public tables, when The Five-Year-Old asked: “What’s a cranny?”
My first response was that crannies are pretty much the same as nooks. I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for Daddyo’s pesky insistence that an idiom such as nook and cranny couldn’t possibly be so redundant.
It was time to Ask the iPhone.
Turns out there is a distinction. According to Wikipedia, when used on its own, nook can refer to a corner, an alcove, a recess, or simply a hidden or secluded spot. A cranny on the other hand, is merely a crack. When the two are used together in the idiomatic phrase nook and cranny, nook’s meaning pretty much takes over, leaving you with a phrase that means a small or hidden place (or part of a place).
What new-to-you word did you learn this weekend?