Riding off on a tangent

Stumbling over one word in today’s paper sent me off on a strange short trip on the Internet. The word was “ferrier” in today’s State Fair coverage. I thought the word for a person who specializes in shoeing horses was “farrier.” (The item was about a horseshoer whose dog had disappeared at the fair.)

I Googled the words “farrier” and “ferrier” and got a hit on Why your horse should go barefoot. Apparently, the question of whether horses need shoes incites balking, bucking and kicking among some humans. I also hit on this Wikipedia article about farriers.

“Farrier” is the accepted spelling for the word, as I found out when I consulted dictionaries (hardcover and online). It comes from ferrum, the Latin for iron, however, so we would have reason to spell it “ferrier.” The noun for the practice of farriers is “farriery.”

I also plugged the word into the search engine Ask.com and received some interesting hits, including this list of Colonial occupations.

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.