Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Mon Jul 6 16:15:32 UTC 2009

Ah, ha! That's why it's called a "cootie catcher". I only knew it as
a fortune teller, but I have heard it called a "cootie catcher" and
never knew why.
---Amy West

>Date:    Sun, 5 Jul 2009 09:03:33 -0400
>From:    "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>Subject: Re: cooties
>At 7/4/2009 10:08 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>Seems like most dictionaries, at least the online ones, do gloss it
>>as 'body louse'.  When I was growing up, cooties were always in the
>>plural, they were invisible, and they were things one accused another
>>of having or giving.  I think I assumed they were distinct from lice,
>>which were real, and from other actual critters.  Hard to recall,
>In my elementary school (or was it junior high school) days, there
>was a prank.  One (that is, others) constructed a square piece of
>paper so that the face had four triangular flaps (imagine an X
>inscribed in a square).  These flaps were operated from the reverse
>side by four fingers such that a pair of flaps on opposite sides
>could be opened simultaneously, displaying the surface of paper
>beneath them.  The surface of the paper below one pair of flaps was
>left blank; on the other pair of surfaces were drawn small, repulsive
>mites.  The Other said to one, "I need to check for cooties",
>displayed the two unmarked surfaces, put the device against one's
>head with a grasping motion, took it off, and displayed the other
>two surfaces.
>  From that moment forth (or perhaps even earlier), I always
>associated cooties with the head.  (Although ringworm was the
>condition for which schoolchildren were sent home in my day.)

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