Wordcraft Home Page    Wordcraft Community Home Page    Forums  Hop To Forum Categories  The Vocabulary Forum    Short words (and similar doublets)
Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
Reply
  
Short words (and similar doublets) Login/Join
 
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted
This week I was conflicted between two themes: “short words”, and “pairs of confusingly-similar words”. To resolve that, I decided to do both Our theme will be former, but some of the daily entries will also meet the latter: they will be a pair of similar-sounding short words. We’ll begin with such a pair that also continues last week’s ‘animal’ theme.

shoat – a young pig (just after weaning)

stoat – an ermine (a small weasel-like carnivore), in its brown summer coat. ("The ermine … [has] a very high metabolic rate which makes it a very effective and agile hunter. However, its slim body shape dictates that it must eat often to survive.”)
    When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake – not a very big one. … They were having a fine tug-of-war with it, and its rattling days were over. The sow had it by the neck, and the shoat had the tail.
    – Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

    A golden-headed duck, startled from its slumber in the reeds, paddled off downstream as fast as if a stoat were on its tail …
    – Kate Furnivall, The Russian Concubine
By the way, ermine is a toponym; that is, a word from a place-name. The word ermine is derived from the Latin form of Armenia, where the animal is common.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Richard English
posted Hide Post
Q. How do you tell the difference between a stoat and a weasel?

A. A weasel is weasily distinguished, whereas a stoat is stoatally different.


Richard English
 
Posts: 8037 | Location: Partridge Green, West Sussex, UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
Muzzy and mazy: similar sounds, somewhat similar meanings, but totally unrelated in origin.

muzzy1. mentally confused; muddled 2. blurred; indistinct
    Phoebe felt muzzy and depressed as she sipped her first cup of morning coffee.
    – Susan Elizabeth Phillips, It Had to Be You
mazy – like a maze, in design or complexity; labyrinthine
Our illustrative quote is from a poet’s opium dream.
    And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
    It flung up momently the sacred river.
    Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
    Through wood and dale, the sacred river ran,
    Then reach’d the caverns measureless to man,
    And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
    And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
    Ancestral voices prophesying war!
    – Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), Kubla Khan; or, A Vision in a Dream
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
Compare two more similar M-words...

mauzy - 1. 'damp and warm' ( English Dialect Dictionary) 2. 'Of the weather, damp, foggy, misty or close; sometimes with a very light rain or condensation on objects and a cool gentle wind off the sea.' ( Dictionary of Newfoundland English).

"The Caplin Scull (an incredible inshore breeding frenzy of small fish, similar to the grunion run of California. D.H.) is not just a phenomenon of nature, but also a period of the year, and even a special kind of weather - mauzy weather, with high humidity, frequent fogs or drizzles, easterly winds."
-- Harold Horwood, Newfoundland (Toronto: Macmillan, 1969).


maze - v. transitive: to bewilder. v. intransitive: to wander in mind. ( Journal of American Folklore, 1897.

" As foolish as a mazed caplin." (A purely serendipitous tie-in to the previous quote. D.H.)--Devine, Devine's Folk Lore of Newfoundland in Old Words, Phrases and Expressions, Their Origin and Meaning.(St. John's: Robinson, 1937).

"
 
Posts: 249 | Location: CanadaReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
You probably think spelt and smelt are the past tenses of to spell and to smell. Well, they are – but they also are foods: a grain and fish. I wonder if anyone has ever made a meal of smelt and spelt?

smelt – a small silvery food-fish¹
    Oh, why does man pursue the smelt?
    It has no valuable pelt,
    It boasts of no escutcheon royal,
    It yields no ivory or oil,
    Its life is dull, its death is tame,
    A fish as humble as its name.
    Yet take this salmon somewhere else.
    And bring me half a dozen smelts.
    – Ogden Nash
spelt – an ancient and hardy wheat, grown mostly in Europe
    Spelt, an ancient whole grain and kind of wheat that's long been popular in Italy and Germany, is making a comeback among American consumers. The grain, which has a nutty flavor, contains significantly more protein than wheat. Among other benefits, some gluten-sensitive people have been able to eat spelt without experiencing digestive problems. The grain fell out of favor in North America decades ago because its tough hull, or husk, made it more difficult to process. But this tough hull also protects the kernel, as well as helps retain its nutrients and freshness. Spelt was reintroduced to the market in 1987.
    – Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Feb. 1, 2007 (ellipses omitted)

¹ Smelt also has another meaning, of course: 'to melt or fuse ores'.
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
Two body-words today:

scruff – the back of a person’s or animal’s neck
scurf – dandruff (or other skin-flakes formed as fresh skin develops below)
[from Old English for 'cut to shreds']

Interestingly, scurf is the source of the word scruffy, "shabby and untidy or dirty".
    "So that’s your idea of gratitude?" he screamed. "So that’s how you feel after everything I’ve done for you? Everyone told me that crudeness and selfishness was all I could expect for lifting a cheap little alley cat by the scruff of her neck!"
    – Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

    "What is it you wanted to see me about?” While Sir Claude tried to remember, the Queen had time to notice the thin reef of dandruff that that gathered beneath his coat collar, the egg stains on his tie and the drift of scurf that lay in his large pendulous ear.
    – Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader
Bonus word:
pendulous
– hanging down; drooping
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
quirt – a short-handled riding whip with a braided leather lash
    More than once, according to Felice, the Captain had taken a bullwhip to his lady, and more than once, she had taken the same bullwhip to him-not to mention quirts, buggy whips, or anything else that lay to hand.
    – Larry McMurtry, Comanche Moon
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
A possible doublet for this word could be quirl, an alternative spelling of querl,

quote:
v. t. 1. To twirl; to turn or wind round; to coil; as, to querl a cord, thread, or rope.
n. 1. A coil; a twirl; as, the qwerl of hair on the fore leg of a blooded horse.

See http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Querl


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
Posts: 10930 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
Good idea, arnie! Wish I'd thought of that.

tope – to habitually drink alcohol excessively

The song Have some Madeira, M'dear, by Michael Flanders, tells how an old lecher uses alcohol to seduce a young innocent.
    Unaware of the wiles of the snake in the grass
    And the fate of the maiden who topes,
    She lowered her standards by raising her glass,
    Her courage, her eyes and his hopes.
Let that be a caution to all you good ladies among our readers!
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Richard English
posted Hide Post
quote:
tope – to habitually drink alcohol excessively

How can one manage to do that?


Richard English
 
Posts: 8037 | Location: Partridge Green, West Sussex, UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
Two kinds of land today, the swale and the sward.

swale1. moist or marshy low land 2. a shallow trough-like depression (as along a roadside) that carries overflow water¹
sward – an expanse of grass turf (also, the upper soil layer of soil, esp. when grass-covered)
[from Old English meaning ‘skin, rind’ (of bacon, etc.). Greensward means ‘grass-covered turf’.]
    The issue began as a result of complaints from Balsam Road residents April and Joe Comazzolo, who say they have spent five years dealing with backyard flooding after a neighbour blocked a drainage swale that runs through the neighbourhood.
    – Welland (Canada) Tribune, Jan. 28, 2008

    Now they … entered a new residential section that skirted a substantial wood with tall trees and paths through it. Blackthorne found it vastly enjoyable to be out of the streets, the well-tended sward soft underfoot, the track wandering through the trees.
    – James Clavell, Shogun

¹ further meanings:
paralleling #1: a shallow depression on a golf fairway or green
paralleling #2: a trough between ridges on a beach, paralleling the coastline
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of pearce
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by wordcrafter:
Two kinds of land today, the swale and the sward.

swale1. moist or marshy low land 2. a shallow trough-like depression (as along a roadside) that carries overflow water¹

SWALE. There is a beautiful area in North Yorkshire (Englands biggest and arguably best county) called SWALEDALE. The local advertisers describe it: [QUOTE] Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Here you will find Nature at its best. There are high mountains at the head of these valleys whose evocative names such as Blea Barf, Great Shunner Fell and Rogan's Seat echo the voices of the Vikings who settled here over 1,000 years ago.

Sparkling moorland streams cascade down the valley sides through pastures touched by a thousand shades of green. The River Swale, England's fastest flowing river, threads its way through a maze of fields dotted with stone barns.

Over generations the people of these Dales have shaped the landscape and left a legacy of history, folklore and legend. The language of the Vikings can still be heard all around in the local dialect and the village place-names.

The area also boasts hardy Swaledale sheep.
Swale has different meanings. The OED gives 1. timber in laths, planks dating from 1325. 2. Shade, also the cool, the cold from c 1425.    A hollow, low place; esp. U.S., a moist or marshy depression dating from 1584. And a broom or brush without a stick for a handle.
These different meanings beg the origins of the word, deemed uncertain, but mostly of Scandanavian roots such as ON svalar a balcony; and ON svalr meaning cool.

But never mind the dry etymology. Come and see its rural splendours for yourselves.
 
Posts: 424 | Location: Yorkshire, EnglandReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
I agree, pearce, Swaledale and the Yorkshire Dales National Park are beautiful. Personally I prefer the slightly more rugged beauty of the Lakeland National Park, but as it's not in Yorkshire I can understand your preference for Swaledale. Wink


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
Posts: 10930 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of shufitz
posted Hide Post
Is it true that the swales in Wales prevail upon the dales?

(sorry; couldn't resist)
 
Posts: 2603 | Location: Chicago, IL USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
greave [pronounced like grieve] – leg armor worn below the knee
[usually plural, since you have two legs. from Old French for ‘shin’]
    The book [XI of the Iliad] opens with a marvelous description of him putting on his armor: greaves with silver clasps, a magnificent breastplate covered in gold and tin and adorned with twin serpents of blue enamel, a sword decorated with silver and gold, and a shield of blue steel crowned with a terrifying Gorgon’s head – a warrior’s haute-couture dream.
    – Elizabeth D. Samet, Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point

    I looked down the lists to the king. His squire was stripping him of his heavy armor. … They unstrapped the greaves from his legs and the guards from his arms …
    – Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
Two words today, to finish the theme.

skerry [pronounced like scary]– a rugged isolated sea-rock; a reef
    Off in the ocean to the north-northeast, he picked out a skerry where, in 1950, a boat heading in to Heimaey had lost its power and crashed on the rocks.
    – John McPhee, The Control of Nature
throe – a severe pang or spasm of pain, as in childbirth

Throe is pronounced like throw; indeed, it was originally spelled similarly, throwe. Each word appears to com from Old English þrawan 'to twist, turn, writhe'. (The þ is an old letter, pronounced th.)
    [The actors] simulated agonized death throes, rolling around on the ground, twisting their bodies into grotesque shapes and making hideous faces.
    – Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of pearce
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by arnie:
I agree, pearce, Personally I prefer the slightly more rugged beauty of the Lakeland National Park, but as it's not in Yorkshire I can understand your preference for Swaledale. Wink


Thanks. I did say ' arguably best county'. We too spend a lot of time in the Lake District, which as an area (not a county per se) is, as Ruskin once observed the most beautiful in the world:
"The first thing which i remember as an event was being taken by my nurse to the brow of Friar's Crag on Derwentwater."
[inscribed on a stone monument on Friar's Crag, which I am sure you have seen many times.]
 
Posts: 424 | Location: Yorkshire, EnglandReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
Indeed I have, pearce. For about ten years between the ages of 16 to 25 or so I spent almost every holiday (two or three times a year) fell walking. Most of the time I went to the Lake District, but I also had good times in the Dales and in North Wales.

Now I'm pear-shaped and hardly walk anywhere. Frown


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
Posts: 10930 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Richard English
posted Hide Post
I suppose it depends what you like. If you are fond of trees, then Surrey is the UK's most wooded country, closely followed by Sussex, Hampshire and Kent. Over 22% of Surrey's area is woodland.


Richard English
 
Posts: 8037 | Location: Partridge Green, West Sussex, UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
  Powered by Social Strata  
 

Wordcraft Home Page    Wordcraft Community Home Page    Forums  Hop To Forum Categories  The Vocabulary Forum    Short words (and similar doublets)

Copyright © 2002-12