Mischief Night

English is such an odd language. Take all the collective nouns for animate objects, for example, like gaggle and troop and flock and drove and school and pride.

Or take the word mischief, which comes from the Old French meschief, from mes, meaning “badly,” and chever, “to happen, or come to a head.” Ending badly.

And guess what the word for a whole bunch of rats is: a mischief.

So if your car gets soaped or your house draped with long white streamers, be thankful you weren’t invaded by that other kind of mischief. Much better to call it Cabbage Night, as they do in New England, where, in the old days, the worst that could happen was a rotten cabbage from some farmer’s field ending up on your lawn.

May your night not end badly.

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