Thursday, 2 May 2019


Although the German origin “ohne Korrektur”—without correction—is as probably as much of a folk etymology as “Old Kinderhook,” Martin van Buren running for re-election on something snappier than his foreign-sounding name and the term “okay” probably a borrowing from Choctaw, Occitan or Bantu, we did like it as a segue into learning about another term that has metaphorically come to have similar connotations: astrein. Initially a term in the lumber industry, it means “free of knotholes” and the ideal planks for construction and furniture manufacturer would be sourced from parts of the trunk uninterrupted by branches (äste) which leave a hole or a hard bit of unworkable wood. More in common-parlance in the 1980s “Astrein!” came to be synonym for very fine and good.