Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mickles and Muckles

When I was a kid my grandfather often told me about his Scottish grandmother who had taught him the importance of being thrifty. One of her favorite sayings was, "Waste not, want not." (In the past to want meant to need.)
Another of her sayings was, "Many muckles make a mickle," which Gramp told me meant "Many littles make a big."
I thought those words ought to have been switched because muckle sounded to me like it should be bigger than mickle.
Recently I found the words in the dictionary and discovered they both mean the same thing, much or a lot.
But that doesn't make sense to me. How could my great, great grandmother have been mistaken about a saying from her own homeland? Could the meaning of one of the words have changed since the early 1800s? But dictionaries (and I checked several, both online and in hard copy) agree that the words are archaic so that change is unlikely.
I wish I knew the answer to those questions, but I do know her advice still holds true. In this economy we should all be thrifty, avoid wasting money, and remember that many small things amount to a lot.


Connie Arnold said...

It's a good saying, certainly good advice. Interesting that they mean the same. Like you, Jan, I think muckle sounds bigger than mickle.

Janet Ann Collins said...

Thanks, Connie.