Such aphorisms as 'Think With Your Head, Not Your Heart' connote positivity of the noun 'head', but such English words as heady and testy connote negativity. So why this clash and polarity of connotation?

Per Etymonline, the etymology of 'testy' involves French. Does French help to explain anything?

  • "Positive" and "negative" are not really useful terms; they're judgements, not descriptions. Here you're dealing with a metaphor. Several metaphors, in fact, because head and heart are not opposed organs except in a logic/emotion trope. But there are other issues as well. – john lawler in exile Mar 16 '15 at 22:29
  • "several bottles of heady local wine" is not really negative, it just means that the wine is particularly strong and can go straight to your head. And "In the heady days of their youth, they thought anything was possible" the early years of our lives can be intoxicating, brash, exciting, even daring. The adjective "headstrong" can express strong-will and/or stubbornness. – Mari-Lou A Mar 17 '15 at 22:20
  • And in Italian testa means "head" which explains where the word testy comes from. Now if the French borrowed from Italians or vice versa matters little, what we do know is that testy is a calque or loanword – Mari-Lou A Mar 17 '15 at 22:22
  • See this answer written by John Lawler and how he uses the word "heady". – Mari-Lou A Mar 17 '15 at 22:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.