As Erin McKean noted in introducing her book Weird and Wonderful Words,
quote:"There are plenty of words that are weird without being the least bit wonderful -- nectocalyx is orthographically weird, but [its dreary scientific meaning] is sadly lacking on the wonder scale." Conversely, "There are wonderful words, such as brio and luminescent, which long familiarity has deprived of any weirdness."
This week we present weird and wonderful words, with useful meanings. We'll even choose ones that sound so ordinary and unassuming that one could work them into everyday conversation without drawing attention; that is they are useable as well as useful. No sesquipeds here! As a bonus, the sounds of each word give a grin and, perhaps, reflects its meaning.
[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Mon Jan 27th, 2003 at 12:56.]
fleer - to laugh in a disrespectful or jeering way. prob. of Scand. orig
Our quote concerns the adoption of "standard time" -- time zones -- in the late 1800's, supplanting each city's and town's use of its own local time. The railroads sought that changeforuniformity, lest scheduling confusion produce the unfortunate result of two trains attempting simultaneously to occupy the same track.
[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Mon Jan 27th, 2003 at 13:05.]
handsel - a gift as a token of good luck, such as one upon a graduation, new year, wedding or opening-of-business. Also, the first money taken in at a shop.
In Scotland, the first Monday of each year used to be celebrated as a holiday, called Handsel Monday.
gallimaufry – an absurd medly; a hodgepodge (This word originally meant "a hash of various kinds of meats". It traces back to Old French for "to make merry" (source of English gala) + "to eat much", and to Medieval Dutch for "to open one's mouth wide".)
Looking at dictionary.com I found that The Guardian used that last word, "gallimaufry", in a way that sho' fits well in another thread.
I love this theme, wordcrafter!
gammerstang – a tall, awkward woman
Sometimes you'll find this lovely word defined with further shades of meaning, such as "with bad manners" or "with bad morals". Gammerstang seems to be principally of british use; can any of our british readers shed further light? The word is too rarely used to find a published sample-sentence.
I have never heard of this word although there is an archaic word, "Gammer" which means "an old woman". It is very rarely used although the male equivalent, "gaffer" can still be heard.
This is probably because "gaffer" has acquired a second meaning, that of "boss" and can be heard when workers in manufacturing industries are speaking of their immediate superior.
You do still hear "gaffer" with its meaning of "old man" used in the Midlands, especially if you visit some working man's pubs where the little old man siting in the corner nursing his half pint of mild will be called "the gaffer".
Purgamentum init, exit purgamentum
Read all about my travels around the world here.
I confess I've never heard of the word either. A little research seems to show that it's a Cumbrian dialect word meaning a sort of female lummox. I found a verse in dialect called The Raffles Merry Neet which contains this stanza:
I' t'loft they were rwoarin' an dancin';
Big Nancy, the greet gammerstang,
Went up an' doon t'fluir lyke a haystack,
An' fain wad hev coddled Ned Strang;
A rough translation would be:
In the loft they were roaring and dancing;
Big Nancy, the great lummox,
Went up and down the floor like a haystack,
And would have happily cuddled Ned Strang;
Cumbria is an area where the local dialect is still, happily, spoken by a goodly number of people.
Gammer is a word I used to describe Emily in our Christmas Romance thread.
mundungus - foul-smelling tobacco.
How lovely to be able to say, "Get that mundungus out of my home, please."
Mundungus has apparently has become slang, in the Royal navy, for any useless or unwanted material (like gubbins, wiffen, etc.) Mundungus Fletcher is a minor character in JK Rowling's Harry Potter books.
wamble – to move in a weaving, wobbling, or rolling manner (noun: a wobble or roll)
from ME wamelen = to feel nausea
also, when referring to the stomach: to turn or roll (noun: an upset stomach)
Note: the vowel sound in the first syllable can be pronuounced either as in 'pot' or as in 'pat'.
Wordcrafter, another glorious word!
While I love these new words and others posted on this site (most recently Asa's "thaumaturgy" and Graham's "mingy"), I wonder how to make them a part of my vocabulary. It is fun to read about them, but does anyone have suggestions about how to use them?
moil – to work with painful effort; to toil; to drudge (noun: toil; hard work; drudgery); also, to churn or swirl about continuously (noun: confusion; turmoil)
Doesn't this sound of this word somehow conjure up an image of mole-like beasts slaving away in the dark?
quote:¹Bonus word: marge – border; margin; edge; verge
Kalleh commented, about our words, "It is fun to read about them, but does anyone have suggestions about how to use them?"
Hon, to me the special beauty of this weeks theme is that these are words you could toss into ordinary conversation.
I'm not sure if I'm allowed to add my favorite weird & wonderful word since it looks like only wordcrafter is the one bringing up the new ones, however...
For your consideration:
pecuniary adj. of money; financial
Being that I am currently unemployed my thoughts are of a pecuniary nature of late.
Following up on 'pecuniary' is another financial term.
(How do I just know asa will have something to say about 'pec'?)
This is a nice scientific noun used to describe measured samples that my wife recently verbified for me when offering to aliquot me a portion of cottage cheese.
Minging not mingy. It rhymes with singing. It's lovely to think of it being used in Illinois.
My dictionary says meaning is :
adj. forming an exact proper divisor.
You sure she didn't mean allocate?
quote:Oh, isn't that just the story of my life? After all that research on "mingy", I find out I had the wrong word all along! However, now I am more convinced that "minging" comes from "retromingent". However, I have exhausted all my sources and have no further place to look.
(How do I just know asa will have something to say about 'pec')
Gee, thanks! Now the whole board knows I'm impecunious! Oh, well, at least I have a job - so far...
Hey, TrossL, what do you do when you do do it? PM me if you don't want the world to know - if you're a CIA operative or something.
Retromingent is a fantastic word and I am going to try and use at least three times today. It was well worth any barking-up-the-wrong-tree research you may have done!
Graham, check the limerick thread!
As a noun, a moil (I think I've seen it as "moyl" or "moyle" but dictionary.com doesn't have either) is the Yiddish term for the person who conducts the ritual circumcision of male Jewish babies.
One of my (hundreds of) pet peeves is the person who makes some stupid joke about cutting off someone's foreskin and then referring to himself as a rabbi. Actually, anyone telling foreskin jokes (since they're so rarely funny) makes up a pet peeve of its own.
The rabbi may officiate over the operation but it's the moil who handles the knife. Still, brings new meaning to the definition "painful effort."
I can recall only one encounter with this word:
"There are strange things done
In the midnight sun,
By the men who moil for gold..."
-The Cremation of Sam McGee
Since "Moil" derives from the Old French moillier (to paddle in mud), I think Service caught the sense of the word perfectly. Can't you just see those poor saps slogging around in the muck panning for gold? My high regard for Service's work is again boosted. Too bad he considered so much of his own work to be trash!
I think the usual spelling is "mohel".
Dictionary.com does not have any of the four versions given here (moil, moyl, moyle or mohel) except with completely different meanings. But one-look is a broader dictionary-source (it includes dictionary.com), and it will gives mohel, and only mohel, for this meaning. If you google "mohel" you'll also sense that this is the preferred way to transliterate from the Yiddish.