Nightmare: A frightening dream, dating from the 1300’s. This word has an interesting background. Night is documented from the 800’s, but the word is believed to have been around long before recorded history. Mare was an old English term used to describe a demon (incubus, succubus, pick your poison) who would lay down on top of the sleeper at night in an attempt to suffocate him. Hey, wait a minute, I think I might have dated that guy in my twenties.
Maelstrom: Figuratively, a violent or turbulent situation. Also a powerful whirlpool in the sea or river. I just love the sound of this word. It seems to come from a dutch word meaning to grind and whirl. However maelstrom is also associated with a place in Norway, the Lofoten Islands that have such severe currents boats get pulled into them. 500 years ago Sailors believed the whirlpool could suck any ship down and grind it into splinters, rattling the door knockers of people miles away. I had a neighbor living in the apartment upstairs who could do this with a treadmill and a really poor singing voice, but that’s a whole other story.
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