Speaking English Like An Arab

Over centuries, dozens of Arabic words have entered the English language, through science, philosophy, mathematics, food, fabrics, trade and travel.

Most were introduced by inland and maritime trade along the Silk Route, while others came through the Islamic conquests of southern Europe. Not all of these words are of Arabic origin – some came from India, Persia and ancient Greece – but Arab merchants helped export them to the West.

Finally, the discovery of medieval Islamic scientists and astronomers during the Renaissance brought new words and concepts to Europe.  I have picked the top 15 most surprising words with Arabic origins.

Admiral: amir أمير

The word for this high-ranking naval commander evolved from amir, the Arabic word for a prince or ruler. The word was first documented on the island of Sicily in the 11th century, where the Arabs had ruled for 300 years.

Alchemy: al kimiya الكيمياء

The ancient branch of philosophy known as alchemy involved the study of substances and materials. Medieval alchemists believed that some liquids could be turned to gold, or a potion that would make its drinker immortal. The original Arabic word stems from the Greek term “khemeia, though some scholars also trace its roots back to ancient Egypt.

Cotton: qutun قطن

Though cotton was known to the ancient Romans, the word and the fabric were imported by Arab merchants to Europe in the late Middle Ages.

Elixir: al-iksir الإكسير

Today, an elixir is a liquid remedy with healing powers. In Arabic, it originally referred to a dry powder for treating wounds. It was later adopted by alchemists who referred to an elixir as the elusive mineral powder that would turn metals into gold.

Jumper: jubba جبّة

The Arabic word for overcoat originally entered European languages as “juppa“, valuable silk clothing, in southern Italy in the 11th century.

Macrame: miqrama مقرمة

This type of knotted textile used in craft and high fashion originates from the hand-loomed fabrics of Arabic weavers. In Arabic, miqrama refers to an embroidered tapestry or bedspread.

Mohair: al-mokhayyar المخيّر

In Arabic, al-mokhayyar was a high-quality cloth made of fine goat hair. Various forms of it were imported to the West for centuries, the most famous being the wool made from Angora goats of Turkey.

Monsoon: mawsim موسم

Early Arab sea merchants on the Indian Ocean rim used the word “mawsim” or “seasons” to refer to the seasonal sailing winds. Later, the word was adopted by Portuguese, Dutch and English sailors as they navigated extreme weather conditions off the coasts of India, South-East Asia and China.

Muslin: musuliyin موصلي

Muslin, a cotton-based fabric, is said to have derived its name from the traders of the city of Mosul, or the musuliyin, who imported it from South Asia to Europe.

Nadir: nazir نظير

In English, a nadir refers to the worst moment, or the point at which something is of the least value. But in Arabic, the word means a counterpart, and was used in medieval Islamic astronomy to refer to the diametrically opposing points of a celestial sphere.

Orange: naranj نارنج

Though both the fruit and the word came from India, Arabs introduced oranges to the Mediterranean region. For many southern European countries today, they are considered a staple fruit.

Serendipity: serendib سرنديب

The ancient fairy tale place of Serendib, which appears in One Thousand and One Nights and other ancient oral traditions, was also the old Arabic name for the island of Sri Lanka. The English word serendipity, meaning a fortunate discovery, was coined by the English author Horace Walpole in 1754.

Safari: safar سفر

The English adopted the Swahili word for journey – safari – in the 19th century for their hunting expeditions in East Africa. Though a safari today involves an organized trip to spot wild animals, its origins are from the Arabic “safar”, or journey, a reminder of the crucial presence of Arab sea merchants on the East African coast.

Sugar: sukkar سكّر

Another word to have travelled the Silk Road is sugar, which was originally produced in India. By the sixth century, sugar cane cultivation reached Persia, and was brought into the Mediterranean by the Arabs, who produced it extensively.

Tariff: ta’riff تعريف

A tariff in Medieval Arabic means a notification. It was introduced to western languages around the 14th century through commerce on the Mediterranean Sea, where it referred to the bill of lading on a merchant ship, or the statement of products and prices for sale.

WOW #75

Yankee Doodle went to town
Riding on a pony.
Stuck a feather in his hat,
And called it Macaroni

MACARONI

How did he get to be a Yankee??  And what did it have to do with macaroni??!

Yanke Surname Definition: (Dutch) Descendant of little Jan (gracious gift of Jehovah); one who came from Holland; a name sometimes applied to a stranger.

The Online Etymology Dictionary gives Yankee its origin as around 1683, attributing it to English colonists insultingly referring to Dutch colonists (especially freebooters). Linguist Jan de Vries notes that there was mention of a pirate named Dutch Yanky in the 17th century.

From the mid-1750s – even still today – it was the custom of the upper British crust to ‘Do The Continent’ when they came of age.  Starting in Spain or France, they would party their way though Germany and Poland, and end up in Italy.  Italy was considered the epicenter of society and fashion.

Young English men became enamored of anything Italian – better than what was back in frumpy old Britain.  Costume balls were common, and clothing became more and more gaudy and ostentatious.  Of course, “everything Italian” did not usually extend to actually learning the language.

After they returned home, they would wax eloquent about Italian food and wine, the flamboyant clothing, the buildings, and the parties.  It became common to refer to “everything Italian” in verbal shorthand as simply Macaroni.

Some English in the New World (Remember, there were no ‘Americans’ yet) with less wealth and far less chance to party in Italy – were Yankees.  If they had servants and slaves, and were ‘idle,’ – they were a Doodle.  They displayed their wealth by being able to ride a fine horse – pony.  If they wanted to emulate their British cousins, they would adorn and ornament their clothes.  They would stick a jaunty feather in an otherwise simple, basic hat, and pretend that it was as glitzy as any of that Italian Macaroni.

So, this nonsense little poem has nothing to do with college survival food.  Instead, it is a reminder of how the early American common folk viewed those who claimed to be their betters.  I’d better make some mac-and-cheese for lunch.   😉   😆

The Origin Of Woke

How do you get a guy to stand in a closet, while you seal him in by bricking up the door??

Strictly a hypothetical question!  That odd-shaped portion on my basement wall is where the electrical panel used to be…. and I have no idea where that irritating neighbor got to.

And Google is no damned help.  I hate that auto-complete!  I type in How do you…. and I get back
….do the Hokey-Pokey?
….get picked up at a gay bar?
….serve curried Iguana?

I believe I found the birth of Woke, and it’s further back than you might think.  I woke from a refreshing afternoon nap, wondering how the narrator in Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado, kept his victim from just breaking out.  It turns out that he chained the loathed sot to the back wall, tightly enough so that he could not get loose.

I studied the tale in Grade 12 English – old enough to deal with some of the darker themes.  Living out in the boondocks, the teacher only explained a bit of the story motivation, and being an Anglophone-Canadian, managed to mispronounce the Spanish name.  He spoke ah-mon-tee-yad-oh like ah-mon-till-lay-doh.

I re-read the tale on the Internet recently, and was discussing it with the son.  Poe’s works have always been classified as horror.  That’s how my teacher presented it.  Like Romeo and Juliet, this was a valid story of Renaissance, upper-class hatred and competition between families and commercial groups – possible, even likely to happen, given the opportunity.

The son said that, when he studied it, approximately 1988, his (female) English teacher explained that it was all allegory.  The story-teller was just an alcoholic, who was symbolically imprisoning his weakness, and getting sober.  So I guess, no AA back then??!  The dark horror story had been changed into a bright, kind, redemptive one of rehabilitation and personal triumph.

Personally, I find that interpretation to be ridiculous, but I wonder if any of you were presented with it.  😕   😳

There’s always tomorrow.  CU then.

Through A Theist Glass, Darkly

How fear of Atheism gets some Christian Apologists all turned around, mirror-image.

If Atheism are true, and there is no God

  1. Humans were moist robots
  2. Humans had no mind
  3. Humans had no emotion
  4. Humans had no free will
  5. If universe is at it is, and yet we know that universe will end one day, then the universe will be in doom
  6. There is no good and no evil if atheism is true

If there is no final Judgement, it’s like somebody murdered someone else, deep in the forest and nobody saw it happen, then they wouldn’t get arrested or charged or put in prison.

# !  That’s a very emotion-driven, sensationalistic claim but, SO WHAT.  We are what we appear to be – sentient beings, constantly striving, constantly learning, constantly improving, always trending upward, for the betterment of ourselves as individuals, and as a race – and all of it without an absentee-landlord puppet-master, so, we are hardly robots.

# 2  Oh, these poor Christian Apologists – they are nothing without their God-crutch.  I don’t know how to rebut this assertion, except to say that it is silly and untrue.  I did not ask the writer to explain and justify his claim.  Previous similar attempts have just produced bewildered responses like, Of course it’s true!  That’s obvious! when it is definitely not obvious.

#3  First we had no thought.  Now we have no feelings, without God the orchestra leader.  Such a bleak, morbid, and dismal outlook!  😯  While the belief in the existence of God can’t be proven, for writers like this, perhaps it is better that he continue to do so.  He seems to need some solid emotional and psychological support to keep from slipping into the abyss of clinical depression.

#4  Another unsupported, mirror-image claim.  😕  If God exists, as writers like this claim, and He ‘knows all,’ past, present and future, then His perfect and unchanging plan means that everything we do is predestined, and there is no such thing as free will.  Only the nonexistence of God in any way makes us free – but that’s only another thing that worries such writers.  We should only be free (?) to agree to worship their God.

I don’t know how he equates free will, with a deity which has a Top Ten and 603 following commandments about what you can eat, drink, wear, and who you can do it with.

#5  English is not his first language.  Perhaps this cavil makes more sense in Korean.  He’s right.  Whether God exists or not, the Universe will, one day, die the heat-death of entropy – a very natural occurrence.  It’s just that we won’t be around to experience it, so he’ll have to explain to his mental-health counsellor, why he attaches the word ‘doom’ to it.

#6  “Good” and “Evil” do not exist as tangible entities.  “Evil” tends to be a term used by religious/Christians, indicating intent.  Atheists usually substitute ‘good and bad,’ natural descriptors which can exist without a God.  Good is that which increases my well-being and/or happiness.  ‘The greatest good, for the greatest number.’  Bad is that which decreases my well-being – and those around me, and the entire human race.

Being convinced to drink disinfectant to, ‘cure COVID’ might even make me happy, but it does not increase the well-being of my widow, or my children, who are now without a father and provider.

***

While he does not use the word in his final complaint, he implies the Hell out of the concept of ‘Fair.’  Fair is where you take your pig, to have it judged.  The Universe is supremely disinterested in the human concept of justice.  Things like his example occur all the time.  Again, SO WHAT??!  !sneppah tihS

Even the existence of his hypothetical God does not guarantee justice, or ‘fair.’   Someone like failed-Catholic, Adolf Hitler, might repent at the end, confess his sins, plead for forgiveness, and go to Heaven, while Anne Frank is sent to Hell.  👿

You Thought You Had A Shitty Job

According to Mental Floss, in the Victorian Era, ratteners would capture and sell rats to pubs where they were eaten by dogs and played with for entertainment.
Rats, I can’t believe I missed that “premium” entertainment!

The job disappeared when the internet made porn more universally available.  The word shrank down to ratter, and that task was taken by farm-cats, and digger-dogs like my two Scottish Terriers.

People in Medieval times were often given surnames based on their occupation.  The job, and the name, goes back far beyond the Victorian Era.  In both English and German, the spelling first became Rattner, then diminished to Ratner, like Brett Ratner, a Hollywood director, recently mired in a #MeToo and Time’s Up scandal.

Eventually some versions reduced to Radner, and to Radnor.  There is a Radnorshire in Wales.  This time the egg came before the chicken.  It was founded by a couple of English families who moved there to escape their cruel town and despicable occupation, to become farmers.

At the steel warehouse where I worked – long ago – the floor in the fabrication section was poured concrete, but in the actual metal storage area, it was flattened dirt, covered by pea gravel.  On one side, bundles of steel sheets formed stacks eight and nine feet high.

Rats got in, and would burrow under these stacks, occasionally causing one to collapse and tip over into its neighbor.  Righting one of these piles was a slow, somewhat dangerous task, often with product loss.

Nearby was a worker, a recent immigrant from Germany.  His job was to take bundles of 20 foot steel angles or flat bars, and use a large, gravity-fed, horizontal band-saw to cut them to smaller lengths, for fabrication.  Since the bundles might be fifty to a hundred pieces, each actual cut time could be ten to fifteen minutes.

During these un-busy periods, the company urged him to go through the storage area, spreading rat poison, and baiting and checking 15 or 20 big wooden rat traps.  He once proudly told me that he was the company ‘Rattenfanger,’ another German word for rat catcher.

After having to do this task twice, as a home project, https://archonsden.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/oh-rats/ .  I wouldn’t want to have to do it again.  I prefer capturing accolades.  Why don’t you stop by again in a couple of days, and bring some with you.  Remember, I prefer the butterscotch flavored ones.  😉

There Are No Words To Describe It

When I claimed that there is no English language, John, our jovial trivial videographer asked, “How do they know English has no original words?”

I responded that, “I know, because I’ve historically researched it for years, especially when I was tracing my ‘Scottish’ roots.  The results of that search are at It’s In The Jeans, if you’re interested.

Let’s start 2000 years ago, when what would later become England, was sparsely settled, and the language was the various dialects of Celtic tribes, like the Iceni, whose Queen Boudicca (Boadicea) was so badly treated by the invading Romans.

The Romans added many words to the mix, including much Latin, but only the officers were “Romans.”  The spear-carriers and their polyglot languages came from all around the Mediterranean.  Traders from far and wide visited the shores also.  Christ’s uncle, Joseph 0f Arimathea, supposedly traded along the western coast, bringing Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

Around 900 AD, the Germanic Jutes, Angles, and Saxons arrived, making themselves and their languages at home.  The Jutes somehow just disappeared, but the Angles and Saxons became “Anglo-Saxon.”   The ‘Angle land’ kingdoms became the ‘England’ of today.  Their language mixed with the Romano-Celtic, with additions from Scottish Picts, Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, and Welsh, becoming Old English, a term only applied today.

A hundred years later, William the Conqueror, invaded the island.  He was the king of the French province of Breton, bringing the term ‘Britain’ to the language.  Many new words and terms were added.  Although consumption was in French, production was still in ‘English.’  Veau, boeuf, porc, and poulet were eaten by French nobles as veal, beef, pork, and poultry, while peasants still raised ‘English’ calves, cows, pigs, and chickens.

Norse Vikings, whose language also carried much Germanic influence, began raiding, and settling, adding some of their words to the olio.  The rise of the British Empire brought back words from all over the globe, Asia (Hong Kong), and hundreds from India.

The Kings and Queens of Europe were all inter-related, bringing in words from Spain, France, Italy, Poland and Russia.  The British Royal Family were German Battenbergs until WW I forced them to become English Mountbattens.

As new words were added, old terms fell out of use.  Some old English words are still in dictionaries as archaic.  Shewed and shewn became showed and shown, and thee, thou, thy and thine became you, your and yours.

It’s like trying to nail fog to a tree. There never was (and still isn’t) a time when there was a true English language.  It all came from somewhere else.  It is the tongue of immigrants, traders and conquerors – and a most excellent tool for communication.

Word is, that there will be another, fascinating post here in two days.  I will use these immigrant words to describe how elated I am that you visit.  😀

Fibbing Friday – Ivy

Well, here we are sports fans, at the famed Non Sequitur Speedway.  Today’s race will be when we take the English language, which the Brits claim to have invented, and prove that many of them don’t speak or write it as well as most Americans…. and that’s a low bar

Where Happy Hour is from 6 to 7 PM.  All drinks half price.
Mimosas are free to any guy, man enough to order one.
You ask – We promise not to tell
.   😉

After we give thanks for Pensitivity101 and her pit crew of collaborators, we’ll be off to the race for the Lies of the Century – or at least this afternoon.  The pole lineup for today is as follows….

  1. What’s the difference between “going on holiday” and “taking a vacation”?
    What are you vacating when you go on a “Vacation?” As I said, your desk, your chair, your employer, your house, your municipality, and often your better judgment. And yet, especially with COVID, a vacation might be a staycation, while going on holiday,” more strongly indicates a trip, but not with a “caravan,” which is a line of vehicles, not a pull-along, camper trailer.
  2. What’s the difference between a “rubbish bin” and a “trash can”?

    Many English people talk rubbish, while Americans have raised trash talking to a performance art. Brits must talk considerable rubbish.  They require an entire bin to contain it, where Americans get their trash in a can.  There’s no mention of a dust-bin, which contains no dust.  I think it’s all garbage, anyway.
  3. What’s the difference between the “boot” of a car and the “trunk” of a car?

    Two nations, separated by a common language – and by how the moldy upper crust treated the lower classes. When British Milord and Lady went on a carriage trip, they sat inside, protected from dust and weather.  At the rear of the carriage was a small shelf where a couple of servants, or Boots, gamely clung on, till they were needed.  Americans, being a tiny bit more egalitarian, forewent the dangling servants, and used the space for storage of necessary things that they packed in a steamer Trunk, and strapped to the back of these new horseless carriages.  Eventually, these automotive areas were enclosed, and they both became the same thing, only different.
  4. What’s the difference between a “nappie” and a “diaper”?

    ‘Nappie’ is short for ‘napkin’, the thing that the usually persnickety Hercule Poirot uses to create an etiquette faux pas, by tucking in at his neck when he eats. A diaper is used to catch stain-causing food matter at the other end.  The word comes from the Greek di aspros – meaning pure white.  It’s called a diaper for short, but not for long.
  5. What’s the difference between the “pavement” and a “sidewalk”? Pavement is the usually-black-stuff that covers roadways – tarmac, or Macadam – The stuff that a Scotsman invented so that the English moneyed class could smoothly, comfortably re-invade drive north to vacation – or holiday – however their wealth entitles them to describe it, in Scotland. Sidewalk is a place, often made of concrete, to ‘walk’, at the ‘side’ of the pavement portion where the cars drive.  No wonder Brits are confused by these terms.  They already drive, and probably walk, on the wrong side of the roads and the language.
  6. What’s the difference between “chips” and “French fries”?
    Chips are what are confused for French fries, at chip wagons and fish and chips shops, especially British ones, and England has a plethora of them. They now shout, “We’re number 2!” because they’ve been supplanted by Curry in a Hurry.  England has yet to emerge into the 20th century, and admit that ‘potato chips’ is the American development of the language.  They call them ‘crisps,’ which might well also be crisp Cheese Crunch-Its.  My brother visited a roadside restaurant on a trip to Yellowstone Park, and requested a hamburger, and an ‘order of chips.’  He was quite distressed when the server tore open a bag of Hostess “chips” and poured them on his plate.
  7. What’s the difference between the “bonnet” of a car and the “hood” of a car?

    A bonnet would be on the front of a woman-owned car, or on the head of the woman who owns it. She’s probably named the car – something cutesy, like Peaches.  On the other hand, a Hood (sometimes) covers the turbo-charged power-plant of a manly-man’s performance car…. Which he isn’t using to compensate for anything.  😉
  8. What’s the difference between a “rubber” and an “eraser”?
    If you use a rubber at every conceivable opportunity, you won’t require the services of an eraser, which are still illegal in many districts, especially Texas, and now, Florida, as well.
  9. What’s the difference between a “flannel” and a “washcloth”?

    Flannel is what is used to make my Canadian formal shirts. My washcloths are made from soft, absorbent terry cotton.
  10. What’s the difference between a “pram” and a “stroller”?

    Pushable child transporters with wheels were invented during the Golden Era, when everybody who was somebody (as long as he was a man), spoke much Latin, and a little Greek. The device was given the pretentious Latin name, perambulator meaning ‘inspector, or surveyor,’ but coming to mean ‘ramble, or stroll’ and finally ‘to walk with.’

The common man – or more often, the common woman – had no time for all that, and it quickly shortened to pram.  The stroller – the person walking – soon added that name to the device being walked with.  Prams used to be more commonly lie-down carriers, while strollers tend to have the baby sitting upright.  My mother transported my brother in a baby buggy.  Being a bit older, she dragged me around with a travois.

Things I Learned While Researching Other Things

I give all credit for the idea of this post to the late journalist Sydney J. Harris, who would occasionally include something he called “Things I Learned While Looking Up Other Things” in his syndicated column.

This is a post about words and phrases. These are my building blocks, so they’re something I’m always interested in.  You understand the sometimes frustrating task of trying to find the correct word or phrase.

Occasionally, I’ll read or type words that I may understand in the context in which I’m seeing or using them, but will suddenly realize that I’m not certain where the words or phrases originated.

In this amazing Computer Age, I can afford a few minutes of distraction to investigate them further.

Right off the bat — As expected, the phrase “right off the bat,” meaning “immediately; at once; without delay” is a sports metaphor that has been traced back to the late 1880s with that usage. I just made the assumption that the sport was baseball—and it probably is—but some suggest that it may have originated with cricket (as baseball did).

Nitpicker — The word nitpicker means someone who finds faults, however small or unimportant, everywhere they look. We all know someone like that. If we don’t, it’s probably us. The word itself is relatively new, from about 1950 or so. It comes from the idea of picking nits (or lice eggs) out of someone’s hair. A nitpicker is as meticulous about finding faults as a literal nitpicker should be at finding each louse egg. Yes, it’s kind of a disgusting word origin, which is why nitpicker has negative connotations.

Top-notch — We know that top-notch means “excellent” or “of the highest quality.” But, what are its origins? It seems that no one really knows. It first appeared suddenly in its current usage in the mid-19th century. It has been suggested that it originated from one of several tossing games imported from Scotland that required a player to throw a weighted object over a horizontal bar. The best score would be when the bar was in the “top notch,” naturally. This sounds reasonable, but it’s really just a guess. Other guesses have it relating to logging, with the best lumberjacks able to cut from the highest notches, or some such thing. Another had something to do with candles and courting, but that’s been mostly debunked. Bottom line: we don’t know.

Since Hector was a pup* — Meaning “for a long time.” I can’t say this is exactly a regional colloquialism, although I heard it the first (and only) time from some guy in South Carolina. He said that it was something his dad always said, and, in the context it was used, the meaning was obvious.  Best guess, according to Internet sources, is that it is referring to the Trojan War hero Hector, since the phrase originated during a time when people were more well-versed in the classics. And that was, indeed, a long time ago.

Hemming and hawing — The phrase means to hesitate to give a definite answer. It dates back to the 1400s and is echoic in nature. A more modern interpretation would be “um-ing and er-ing” probably, with “um” and “er” being common filler sounds in hesitant speech. I always assumed it had something to do with either sewing or sailing. I was mistaken.

Gamut — I used the word “gamut,” knowing that its definition meant the complete range or scope of something. My actual sentence began “our entertainment choices run the gamut from …” But, where did the word “gamut” come from? It turns out that gamut originally meant “lowest note in the medieval musical scale” and it was a contraction of Medieval Latin gamma ut, from gamma, the Greek letter indicating a note below A, plus ut (later called do (as in “do re mi”), the low note on the six-note musical scale. So the word gamut was originally all about music, but later morphed into meaning “the whole musical scale,” or, figuratively, “the entire range or scale” of anything. Its first usage in this manner can be traced to the 1620s.

Honeymoon — The word and concept of the honeymoon owes more than a little to alcohol (as do some weddings: but, I digress—). The medieval tradition of drinking honeyed wine for a full moon cycle after a wedding was supposed to ensure a fruitful union between the new bride and groom. I guess Champagne is a modern-day analogue to honey wine.

Throwback — It means a person or thing that is similar to something of an earlier type or time. It was already in use with more or less the current definition in the mid-19th century. It is a combination of the verb “throw” and the adverb “back.” I can’t find a more pithy origin story for the word, even apocryphal stories that have been debunked. I was sure it would have its origin in the sport of fishing.

Venting your spleen — This particular idiom means “to express your anger.” From medieval times until the 19th century, the spleen—an organ in the body near the stomach—was thought to be the source of the “humors” that caused the emotion of anger. This is a colorful and archaic phrase. I contracted hepatitis as a 12-year-old.  (My mother called it jaundice, because I turned a lovely yellow/orange color from all the excess bile in my system.  I couldn’t keep food or drink down for two weeks, and lost 20 pounds – not a good thing on a skinny, stick-thin kid.)  But, I digress— anyway, my spleen was swollen while I had jaundice. I don’t recall being angry, but I did throw up a lot.

One to grow on — I thought an origin for this idiom would be easy to find, but it remains mostly a mystery.  When you had a birthday, it was a tradition to receive your birthday spanking by your friends or family, with the flat of the hand or with a paddle or belt. One person on-line said the birthday person would be “lightly paddled.” They didn’t live anywhere near me. Anyway, you’d get one swat for each year of your age, and then one extra swat, called the “one to grow on.” It’s like the baker’s dozen of birthday-themed beatings. I still don’t know the origins. Here’s one guess: you say something “grows on” you to mean that you become accustomed to it. Is the birthday punishment tradition meant for you to get used to pain because that’s all adulthood has to offer you in the future? That’s a little bleak, but it will serve as a placeholder until someone can offer me a better explanation.

* * * * *

Things I Learned While Researching Other Things = TILWROT
Remember that!  
As a lover of words, I know I’ll keep collecting these. Plus, I’ll keep posting them, I’m sure.

*Actually…. My Mother used to say, “Since ‘Towser’ was a pup.”  Now I’m off to research ‘Towser.’  Lord knows what I’ll find.

 

’20 A to Z Challenge – W

 

 

 

I recently told a reader that I spoke/wrote all my Scottish Gaelic in English.  I told another that I did the same thing with the Spanish that he contributed.  It seems so simple, yet it’s harder than it seems, because there is no English language.  Every word in the language came from somewhere – everywhere – else.

The English language imports words from other languages wholesale, and then claims them as its own.  Some words are ‘naturalized’ – accepted and commonly used – more, and more quickly than others.  Then there are words that only pretentious wordnuts (with the accent on Nuts) like me, are even aware of, much less occasionally use.  This brings us to today’s (and yesteryear’s) social-commentary word

WEISSNICHTWO

wise-nicked-woe

Its meaning in the original German was, not clear where.  It came into English with the more substantial, definitive meaning of know not where.  In almost two-hundred years, I’m sure it must have been used a few times.  It was dragged, kicking and screaming, into English in 1833 by the British writer, Thomas Carlyle.  It was made famous – or infamous – by its use in his Latin-titled book, Sartor Resartus.

Even back then, he used it to describe a First-World problem.  World cities, especially those in Europe, were losing their visual culture, and were becoming homogeneous, indistinguishable, one from another.  There were Jews in Belgrade, Arabs in Marseilles, and Irish in London.  If you roused from a drunken stupor and wandered into the streets, you wouldn’t know where you were, until you fell into the Thames, or the Seine, or the Moscow River – and with the state, or lack of, municipal sanitation, even not then.

He used the word Weissnichtwo as the name of an indefinite, unknown, or imaginary place, like Utopia, Brigadoon, or Shangri-La.  The problem situation has only got worse over the years.  With the ubiquitous McDonalds, Domino’s, and Starbucks, and rampant, often war-driven immigration, a traveler might be anywhere.

I imagine that you’re just over there, shaking your head at this word.  You could be much closer to my next post soon, if you pop back in a couple of days.  I promise not to use any of those big, foreign words.  Might even offer up a few chuckles.   😀

Tell Me If You’ve Heard This One – III

Why did the chicken cross the lexicon?  To get to the other side of the dictionary.
What’s the good word?  All of them.  Look out vocabulary, here they come.

Adjutant – Adjutant is a military appointment given to an officer who assists the commanding officer with unit administration, mostly the management of human resources in army unit.

Argute – Sharp, perceptive, shrewd. Origin: from Latin argutus, past participle of arguere ‘clarify’….

Bamboozle – to deceive or get the better of (someone) by trickery, flattery, or the like; humbug; hoodwink (often followed by into): to perplex; mystify; confound.

Bamboozle is one of those words that has been confounding etymologists for centuries. No one knows for sure what its origins are. One thing we do know is that it was originally considered “low language,” at least among such defenders of the language as British satirist Jonathan Swift, who hoped (and predicted) that it would quickly fade from the English lexicon.
The earliest meaning of bamboozle was “to deceive by trickery, hoodwink,” which is why some believe that it arose among the criminals of the underworld.

Clusterfist – First found in the 1600s, clusterfist can refer to a few types of disappointing individuals. In one sense, cluster means clumsy, and a clusterfist is a type of oaf or boor.  Clusterfist in Community Dictionary is someone who is “tighter than Kelsey’s peanuts” regarding parting with a buck; a parsimonious peckerhead.

A young Black woman recently wrote about how shocked and embarrassed she was to find that her name, Ebony, was a porn category.  😯  EVERYTHING is a porn category.  The modern definition of clusterfist is a fisting of someone simultaneously by over 6 individuals usually leading to severe pain and hilarity at just what a muppet that individual had been for agreeing.

Coracle – (especially in Wales and Ireland) a small round boat made of wickerwork covered with a watertight material, propelled with a paddle.

Frangible – fragile · breakable · brittle – easily broken · easily damaged · delicate · flimsy · insubstantial

Friable – easily crumbled – powdery – dusty – chalky

Futz – Informal futz (around) with, to handle or deal with, especially idly, reluctantly, or as a time-consuming task

Glassine – Glassine is a smooth and glossy paper that is air, water, and grease resistant.  Another Technological obsolescence term, while still available, almost every use of glassine has been replaced by ubiquitous plastic.

Insouciant – free from concern, worry or anxiety – carefree – nonchalant

Intrepid – resolutely fearless, dauntless, daring, bold
If you haven’t, you can read a book titled A Man Called Intrepid, about which, several historians claim that he fudged the facts about his intrepid WWII British Intelligence career.

Keloid – an area of irregular fibrous tissue formed at the site of a scar or injury.

Lieutenant – a deputy or substitute, acting for a superior – from French, lieu – in place of, tenant – holding

Logorrhea – pathologically incoherent, repetitious speech – incessant or compulsive talkativeness – wearisome volubility  Therefore, a Logo is a symbol which constantly ‘speaks’ for its corporation.

Melmac – For those of you TV snobs and binge-watchers, who thought that Melmac was only the home planet of ALF, it is actually a brand of dinnerware moulded from melamine resin, popular in the mid-twentieth centuryThat’s the stuff that the Chinese tried to poison us with, by putting it baby formula and pet food, before they unleashed COVID19 on us.

Rapacious – practicing pillage or rapine, greedy or grasping, (of animals, esp. birds) subsisting by catching living prey, ravenous, voracious  (Does it remind you of any politicians you know?)

Scree – a mass of small loose stones that form or cover a slope on a mountain.  That is the normal definition, but since the word was found in a poem which included screeching seagulls, it is onomatopoeia for their cries.

Scritch – Speaking of seagulls and onomatopoeia, depending on how and where it is used, it is a dialect form of either screech, or scratch.
It’s also something that my cats and dogs climb into my lap, to demand from me.

Scumble – Verb: To modify (a painting or color) by applying a very thin coat of opaque paint to give a softer or duller effect.  Noun: a thin, opaque coat of paint or layer of shading applied to give a softer or duller effect.

Shambolic – Shambolic, “disorganized; messy or confused,” is a colloquial adjective, used mostly by the British. The word is a combination of shambles and symbolic. Shambolic is a fairly recent coinage, entering English about 1970.

Tartuffery – religious hypocrisy, or pretention to excellence in any field

Truculent – adj: eager or quick to argue or fight, aggressively defiant

Varlet – a knavish person; a rascal, a menial servant, a knight’s page
Origin of varlet: 1425–75; late Middle English < Middle French; variant of valet