“Not all those who wander are lost.” —J.R.R. Tolkien
Let me just say—as someone who loved to get lost in an encyclopedic dictionary when she was a kid, wandering from definition to definition like exploring room after room in a pre-computer adventure game—that this is one of my favorite quotes.
And that love of following a path to discover more, especially in words, made me love html and hyperlinks. That’s what the internet is: A huge encyclopedia with cross-references all over and “see …” everywhere. The encyclopedic dictionary I lost myself in also included a list of the meanings of names, a thesaurus, famous quotes, as well as French, German and Spanish dictionaries. It was published by Reader’s Digest, and it is one thing I sometimes wish I’d taken with me when Grandma died.
But then I remember I have the internet. So off I go, wondering if “vague” has anything to do with the vagus nerve, and it does. The Latin root of both words means to wander, and that is also clear in the word “vagabond”, a word borrowed from the French in both Norwegian and English that means a transient person, a traveler, a wanderer.
That reminds me: I know nothing about the vagus nerve. (Search, click a link, jump to a definition…) Ah, it is called the roaming or wandering nerve because it meanders around as it travels through the neck, chest and abdomen supplying organs and structures on its way. Basically your good ol’ local bus.
I’ll have to look up the meaning of “bus” one of these days.