Posts tagged ‘etymology’

Yes, they’re all real words (the first sentence notwithstanding)

We’ve all heard of people discussing whether or not ‘gruntled,’ ‘whelmed,’ ‘combobulated,’ &c are real words. The only thing I can add to that debate is that ‘whelmed’ is a real word, and it means ‘engulfed or submerged.’ What I’m more intrigued by are words that actually have valid counterparts that no one ever uses.1 This topic came to my attention as I sat on my balcony enjoying the clement weather, and investigating it has turned my understanding of English etymology into a ravelled web once again. I want to say I’m exasperated by this, but I never started with any asperity, so I haven’t really run out of it yet.

Even more interesting, though, are the false positives. I know many people whom I consider experts in their fields, but I doubt many of them are former perts. I imagine that most discomfiture is not due to a lack of comfits. I may be decanting odd words at you, but it’s better than canting them. What a strange language we speak!

1: I admit, the dangling preposition has its place. I considered writing “By what I’m more intrigued are words…” but that was too much even for me.

The definitive guide to ‘high tea’ etymology (note that in a few months, the correct link will be here).

O Frabjous Day!

‘Tis brillig, and I have been revisiting my erstwhile haunts ’round the internet. Surprisingly, I chanced to look back to Take Our Word For It, and discovered that they have begun to make new issues again! In honor of this, I have essayed to use a more aureate patois in this update, though my writing has become rather torose. Consequently, I shall keep this short. TOWFI is an online newsletter dedicated to etymology, and they have a wheen information in the archives (a particularly emolient example can be found here). They now appear to be run by The Institute for Etymological Research and Education, which makes the articles more authoritative yet less jovial than the old ones. Nonetheless, I am quite blithe.