Skip to main content

Cockles of the Heart

(This cartoon brought to you courtesy of Stephanie Brooks.)

We hear people use the phrase "cockles of the heart" all of the time, but what does it mean? In light of the medical discussion (which I will finish soon, I promise!), I thought it a pertinent time to find out.

Turns out that no one knows for certain where or when the saying originated, but theories abound. It may be from the latin description "cochleae cordis" which was used to describe the chambers of the heart. This seems likely because the prevailing opinion at the time seemed to have been that the venticles of the heart resembled mollusks, refered to as cochleae, or cockles.

It's possible that the comparison between heart and mussel worked the other way, that the shells resembled the heart, but then why wouldn't the heart be refered to as "cardium"? Food for thought. There was a popular Irish song called "Molly Malone" circa the 1880s, which was about a street vendor of the title name who sold "cockles and mussels" from her wheelbarrow on the streets of Dublin. There is now even a statue of the fictional woman on one of the city's streetcorners.


  1. Cardium sounds like cardiac which is a medical reference to the heart. So which came first.

  2. Both "cardium" and "cardiac" come from the Greek word "kardia", meaning heart. "Cordis", as in the above-mentioned cochleae cordis, also means heart, but this time in Latin. The phrase means roughly "little shellfish of the heart".


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Italian Renaissance Hairstyles

In keeping with my last post on Italian Renaissance costume I thought we would take a look at something we didn't touch much on; hairstyles. They were extremely varying; up and down, braided, netted, entwined with silks and ribbons, even pearls, and, of course, dyed, bleached, and curled. The only thing in somewhat short supply seems to be hats, and really who would want to cover up what you had spent so much time constructing?

Occasionally a small cap, or scuffia, was worn either with side curls, or with most of the hair stuffed up underneathe:-

Another notable hair decoration was the reta, or hairnet. Some of these were beaded, some woven in decorative patterns, and some left very simple.

Under and around these ornamentations, or even without them, hair was often braided or crimped.
There was the simple modesty of a veil, if you felt the need to cover up... Or, if blending into the background wasn't your thing, there were big turbans, or simply huge ones. 

And, of course, the…


How Our Ancestors Slept

As someone who wakes up during the night feeling frustratingly refreshed...and then struggles to rise in the morning, I found this article to be a kind of vindication. Apparently the way we sleep has changed. For more information you can visit the link here.