Word Hoard

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Clout, Clour, and Gound

I most recently heard clout used in a political advertisement for Ben Nelson, incumbent Senator for Nebraska. The gist was that Nebraska is a small state, and we need his clout in Washington to get us what we need.

A quick look at the Bartleby.com/Merriam-Webster entry has the meaning I'm most familiar with as the third definition. I'm also intrigued that the fourth definition, "a piece of cloth, especially a baby's diaper," is used "chiefly in Midland US" and is closest to the Old English etymology: cloth patch.

If I were a play-by-play man for baseball, I'd gladly work to include "clout" in my calling of the game. Even a boxing announcer could use it, and if archery had announcers, them too. Here is where the the etymology starts coming around to making sense to me. A cloth patch would be a nice thing to put on a target to aim at. Then some one who was good at striking the target/clout, could translate to other striking occupations, like punching. From there we have the power and influence, wallop if you will, that comes with a punch.

The last word should, and does, go to the OED. It doesn't say anything about clout meaning punch or power or influence until the 8th and 9th definitions. It does confirm my assumption with: "(a piece of canvas on a frame and laid on the ground) the mark shot at in archery." A sample usage of the cloth meaning includes "cast a clout," remove a garment.

A stronger word for punch or heavy blow is "clour." Scottish & north, it has an unknown origin. It started as a knoll, mound, and soon thereafter acquired the verb, to dent, strike heavily, raise a swelling or lump, with the nouns a swelling or lump (on the head) caused by a heavy blow, a heavy blow, and a dent caused by a heavy blow.

I don't know if I covered it here before; I don't really care if I did, but I like the word "gound." Old English gund = Gothic gund, Old High German gunt. Foul matter, pus, esp. that secreted in the eye. Survived in barngun (from var. of BURN verb + var. of GOUND), an eruption of the skin; shingles. Forget the shingles affiliation and just use this one to refer to "sleep," those eye boogers we get and sometimes go to the first two classes of the day with before we finally see ourselves in a mirror.

I was particularly pleased in myself that I took the opportunity to use gound when playing Scrabble yesterday evening.

I used Bartleby.com and the fifth edition of the Shorter OED to assist me in this web log.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Orthography, You Can Go to Hell!

I was reading the comments of a sports web log, and one of the commenters said, "so are these picks with or without the spreads? I've got money on this damnit!"

A quick Googling of the respective spellings--dammit, damnit--reveals 9.1 mil and 3.8 mil results respectively. This is in keeping with my experience. I can't say I've seen damnit very much, if at all. What really piques me, though, is that I kinda like it. It follows the original more closely and embraces that oft silent n.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Some Cannon Fodder

Antiphrasis: The humorous or ironic use of a word or phrase in a sense opposite of its usual meaning. For example: "Brutus is an honorable man." Antony in Julius Caesar

Paralipsis: Drawing attention to something while claiming to be passing over it. An example from Moby Dick: "We will not speak of all Queequeg's peculiarities here; how he eschewed coffee and hot rolls, and applied his undivided attention to beefsteaks, done rare."

Antanaclasis: A play on words in which a key word is repeated in a different, often contrary, sense. Examples: "Your argument is sound, nothing but sound." -Benjamin Franklin "If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm." -Vince Lombardi
Etymology: From Greek antanaklasis (echo or reflection), from anti- (against) +
>ana- + klasis (breaking or bending).

Dichotomy: a division of two mutually exclusive if not contradictory categories.

From Greek "dichotomia," the noun from dichotomeo "cut in two" from the adverb dicha "in two, asunder" + temno "cut." The same root underlying "temno," *tom-/*tem-, emerged in Latin tondere "to shear, shave" from which English acquired "tonsorial" and "tonsure" but also "anatomy," "atom" (not-cuttable), and "temple." The same root developed via Germanic languages to "timber." yourDictionary.com