Words

Word Wednesday: Abacot

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Ambrose Bierce
The Devil’s Dictionary

Generations of reference books once included this term, including the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, dated 1771 […]

James Murray, the famous editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, found that the original word was bycoket, which was indeed a form of headgear, a cap or headdress with a peak both in front and behind, whose name he thought derived from an Old French term for a small castle crowning a hill. He declared abacot to be a ghost word and wrote in an article in [T]he Athenaeum in February 1882:

“There is not, never was, such a word.”

His entry for abacot in the first edition of the OED read in its entirity [sic] “a spurious word found in many dictionaries, originating in a misprint of bycoket.” In the bycoket entry, he told the story:

Through a remarkable series of blunders and ignorant reproductions of error, this word appears in modern dictionaries as abacot. In Hall’s Chronicles a bicocket appears to have been misprinted abococket, which was copied by Grafton, altered by Holinshed to abococke, and finally “improved” by Abraham Fleming to abacot (perhaps through an intermediate abacoc) […]

One may instead argue that since the word has — albeit rarely — been used, then it exists and ought to be treated as such. There is, after all, no shortage of words that have been grossly altered through popular error. The revision of its entry in the Oxford English Dictionary in December 2011 takes this view […]

Michael Quinion
Weird Words (Abacot)
World Wide Words
April 15, 2006 (Updated: June 23, 2012)

You want to know what an abacot/bycoket is? Think Robin Hood. ~Vic

Word Wednesday: Quondam

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This is, clearly, an obscure word. It sounds like a portmanteau of quantum and condom. Hmmm…Quantum Condoms, for an “out of this world” experience! Whadda ya’ think? Can you make a sentence with this word? ~Vic

Word Wednesday: Kaput

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Origin

The adjective kaput:
“ruined, done for, out of order”
is used only in [a] predicate position, not in [an] attributive position. [T]hat is, you can only say “My car is kaput” but, not “I’ve got a kaput car.”

Kaput comes from the German colloquial adjective kaputt:
“broken, done for, out of order, (of food) spoiled”
which was taken from the German idiom capot machen, a partial translation of the French idioms faire capot and être capot:
“to win (or lose) all the tricks (in the card game piquet).”

Faire capot literally means “to make a bonnet or hood” and its usage in Piquet may be from an image of throwing a hood over or hoodwinking one’s opponent. Unsurprisingly, kaput became widely used in English early in World War I.

I find the word’s description, above, apropos to today’s insanity. And, if you are so inclined, a video for five minutes of your time. ~Vic

Word Wednesday: Glowering

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Origin

The verb glower, “to look or stare with sullen dislike” comes from Middle English gloren [or] glouren “to shine, gleam, glow, stare, stare at fixedly.” The Middle English forms are mostly from the north (Yorkshire) and Scotland. [T]he sense “to stare at fixedly” is Scottish. The source of gloren and glouren is obscure but, possibly, Scandinavian, e.g., Icelandic [as] glóra “to glow (like a cat’s eyes)” [or] Swedish and Norwegian dialect glora “to glow, stare.” The source of gloren [and] glouren may also be from Middle Low German glūren “to be overcast” or Dutch glueren “to leer, peep.” Glower entered English in the 15th century.

This is very similar to our “glaring at someone” which has its roots in Middle English, Middle Dutch and Middle Low German.

I’ve been doing a lot of glowering and glaring, lately. The whole world has gone insane-stupid. ~Vic

Word Wednesday: Obstinate

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And, yes, another new post heading. I’m stretching things out to keep from being stale or too strict on myself. With Word Wednesday, all are welcome to play along and use the word in a sentence in comments…if you are so inclined. ~Vic

“Evelyn’s two year old daughter, Karen, was being obstinate by refusing to eat her carrots.”