Evan Velez

Publication Date



In early America, there were many strange superstitions about witches. Colonists looked for all sorts of forms of witchcraft “evidence”. According to The Penguin Book of Witches, the nature of pet names may have served as an unconscious form of evidence (Howe 239). While the author thought of this suggestion as a form of social logic, this essay investigates it as a phenomenon of language. Pet names had a key role in influencing negative feelings towards animals labeled as “familiars.” This affected colonists’ perceptions of an animal, and resulted in the familiar eventually becoming a hated “pet.”



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