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December 13, 2010 Word of the Day

December 13, 2010

Word of the Day

  • woolgathering
  • WOOL-gath-uh-ring


: indulgence in idle daydreaming

My woolgathering was abruptly interrupted by a question from the flight attendant.

"Devoted mothers have little time for themselves, and their children have little time for free play, imaginative woolgathering or secret lives of their own, all things that are such an important part of childhood." -- From an article by Barbara Almond, M.D., published November 5, 2010 at


"Woolgathering" once literally referred to the act of gathering loose tufts of wool that had gotten caught on bushes and fences as sheep passed by. Woolgatherers must have seemed to wander aimlessly, gaining little for their efforts, for in the mid-16th century "woolgathering" began to appear in figurative phrases such as "my wits (or my mind) went a-woolgathering" -- in other words, "my mind went wandering aimlessly." From there, it wasn't long before the word "woolgathering" came to suggest the act of indulging in purposeless mind-wandering.