When I think of peat, which isn’t particularly often, I think of that partially carbonized organic vegetable matter that is used as fuel, but more importantly, is employed during the distillation process of creating Scotch whiskey. My thoughts quickly turn to the Scottish highlands, bagpipes, William Wallace, and Scottish lassies running through fields of thistles. See how this word association exercise focuses so predictably on the female gender, and managed to mention an alcoholic beverage, as well? This is how I often find inspiration for my various word ramblings.
But back to the subject at hand; namely, peat. The origin of this word is from the Middle English, but one variant from Old Irish was spelled pet, which probably explains the genesis of today’s alternate definitions of peat. (And just in case you ever want to pass along a gift to your favorite word blogger, my pet Scotches are Highland Park and Glenfiddich.)
One additional note – I’m aware that the real phrase for today’s subject is for pete’s sake, not peat, so please hold off on those correcting comments. For pete’s sake falls under that broad subject of minced oaths – oaths that substitute a milder word, in this case pete, for a more offensive one, such as Christ or God. I have a whole list of these oaths and a top 10 list might be in the offing.
peat n. 1. an endearment used for a young woman; darling. 2. a small person; often used disparagingly.