Who knew all the fascinating things you could learn about crow’s feet? Here are the comments left by some readers at the A.Word.a.Day site which appeared in the weekly roundup post. I have to say I really like the Danes’ take on the subject.
And here is Mr. A showing off his smilerynkers.
Subject: crow’s feet Def: Wrinkles in the skin around the outer corners of the eyes.
In Italian it corresponds to “zampe di gallina” = “hen’s feet”.
Ah! Languages. I’m a Francophone. When I take French leave most of your readers take the equivalent English leave (in French). Oddly enough we often resort to different animals to describe the same phenomenon. In today’s case (aging showing at the outer edge of our eyes), we refer to geese as in “goose’s feet” instead of your crow. Seems to me that they leave quite a different footprint. I’ll take your crow for my (not golden) goose.
Curiously, in Brazil “chicken’s feet” has the same meaning.
The Danish term for crow’s feet is somewhat more gentle and puts a more positive spin on it. The term is smilerynker, literally smiling wrinkles. You get them from a long life, where you have lived and laughed.
Crow’s feet, on the other hand, kragetæer, literally crow’s toes, is handwriting like mine that is uneven and hard to decipher and looks like the tracks left in the snow by birds hopping about.
In my language – Swedish – this expression is used for handwriting that is almost illegible, a child’s (or a doctor’s).
Years ago when our granddaughter, Samantha, was about four years old, she sat on my wife’s lap and was gently rubbing my wife’s face, around her eyes and accompanying crow’s feet. Samantha lovingly said, “Grandma, I love your pleats.”
As an orthopedic surgeon, I cannot let pass this opportunity to mention, for the record, the bird part, dear to my specialty. It’s the pes anserinus, or goose’s foot. Located just below the knee, this structure represents the confluence of three tendons, likened to the three-toed configuration of a goose foot. A nearby bursa (sac) can become inflamed causing the painful pes anserine bursitis.
A crow’s foot is also the mark a carpenter uses to mark his measuring tape, you start the mark at the correct measurement on the tape and angle it slightly to the left and a second mark angles slightly to the right. Looks like a crow’s foot.
Crow’s feet (plural of crow’s foot) is also a term in the American English tradesman’s vernacular for an open-end socket wrench attachment (images) that can get the job done in tight work areas where a regular wrench or socket just won’t do!
Within the conventions of comic book lettering, crow’s feet describes the marks used to indicate a human sound that accompanies the in-taking or expelling of air. Also called breath marks, they are usually three small dashes stacked vertically (and at slight angles) on each side of the sound that the character is making (such as a whew, gasp!, cough, sputter). Here’s a panelfrom the “Silk Spectre” comic book showing the use of crow’s feet in a dialog balloon.
Now, Mr. A hasn’t yet lived a long life, but I think there has been plenty of laughter and, I hope, lots of love in his 41 years. Here’s hoping there is lots more to come!
- Crow’s feet have never looked better (thearmitageeffect.wordpress.com)