The case for reasonable alpacas in a woolly-headed world
FREE TO READ | A column to satisfy your inner grammar nerd
I was about 10 when I first heard of a duvet. It seems I was a late developer, because the word has been around since the 1750s. It was adopted into English from French, in which duvet means down (as in the soft under-feathers of a goose or duck, not in the “lie down” sense). An earlier French word for down was dum, but that is not the origin of the phrase “dumb down”.
To dumb down is to make oneself sound less clever than one is, usually because it is rather presumptuously and arrogantly assumed that one’s audience will not otherwise understand what one has to say. It is not something I will ever attempt to do on this page because I am well aware that my audience is a lot smarter than I am.
Getting back to duvets, the writer of a recent Telegraph article lambasting the idiocy of feather-stuffed quilts did not use the phrase “dumb down” as a descriptive insult, but she may as well have. ..