My last Pigs blog ended with the expression ‘casting pearls before swine’. Don’t worry, I’m not going to keep harping on about pigs. But ‘casting’ caught my eye. ‘Cast’ is another one of those extremely versatile words. In knitting, you cast stitches on to your needle and when you’re finished, you cast them off again. You can cast off a boat too, loosening the rope tying it to the jetty. But you can’t cast on a boat. Unless you sit on a boat to interview potential actors and actresses, which is called casting. The people who play in a film or television series are collectively called ‘the cast’.
You can cast aspersions, meaning make insinuations about someone (from the Latin ‘aspergere’ – to scatter or sprinkle and in the 16 century it described the sprinkling of holy water so quite a change in meaning there!). You can cast your vote and the moon can cast a gentle light on the world. But you can also cast light on a problem if you have the answer or cast an eye over a report. And anglers cast a line into the water in the hope of catching a fish.
If you break your arm, you might get a plaster cast and if you’re a sculptor, you might cast something in bronze. Not your arm, obviously. And if the bronze statue turns out well, people may well cast a glance at it.