Wordcatcher: An Odyssey into the World of Weird and Wonderful Words

By Phil Cousineau

Who knew that the nice state of Canada is termed for a mistake? How approximately "bedswerver," the easiest Elizabethan insult to hurl at a dishonest boyfriend? via exploring the pleasant again tales of the 250 phrases in Wordcatcher, readers are lured via language and entangled in etymologies. writer Phil Cousineau takes us on a journey into the vague territory of be aware origins with nice erudition and endearing interest. The English poet W. H. Auden used to be requested to coach a poetry classification, and whilst 2 hundred scholars utilized to check with him, he merely had room for 20 of them. while requested how he selected his scholars, he stated he picked those who really enjoyed phrases. So too, with this publication — it takes a distinct wordcatcher to create a treasure chest of exceptional phrases and their origins, and any observe lover will delight in the tales that Cousineau has discovered.

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The ancients personified the powers of judgment of right and wrong and regret because the 3 Erinyes, a trio of sisters who relentlessly pursued in charge mortals. these they stuck have been fated to endure “lifelong misery,” as Isaac Asimov writes, for wrongs they’d devoted. The occupation of this be aware begun with the Latin remorsus, from remordeo, which splits into re, again, and mordeo, chunk. Your sense of right and wrong “bites” you “back. ” Samuel Coleridge wrote, in his play regret, “It is because the center during which it grows: If that be mild, it drops balmy dews of actual repentance; but when proud and gloomy, it's the poison tree, that pierced to the inmost, weeps in basic terms tears of poison. ” Novelist George Moore provides, “Remorse is beholding heaven and feeling hell. ” hence, a painful be aware photograph emerges: our inmost nature, our moral sense, has a type of mordant humorousness, taking a chew of our soul to remind us after we are making undesirable. RHAPSODY a gorgeous tribute. The sound, act, and successful believe cross all of the as far back as the Greek customized of taking “loosely sewed items or rags, strung jointly, Greek rhapsodia, rhapto, stitch, ode, track. ” Its earliest feel in glossy Europe, recorded in 1542, used to be “epic poem,” from heart French rhapsodie, from the Greek rhapsodios, a reciter of epic poems, proficient in rhaptein, the power to sew jointly the odes, from oide, music. Over the centuries this skill to recollect, sing, and encourage was once so prominent that rhapsody got here to intend any exalted feeling or expression, a that means that dates again to 1639. via the mid 1850s, it used to be used to explain “sprightly musical compositions. ” Snarky occasions are suspicious of lofty expressions of paintings, and so rhapsody has devolved into rhapsodic, which in a few circles can suggest exaggerated enthusiasm. So if the that means continues to be vague, i like to recommend hearing Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a subject matter of Paganini, a piece that stitches jointly the Russian’s ardour with the Italian’s exaltation. In her essay “Building the House,” poet Mary Oliver writes, “Privacy, now not adored on this planet, is the entire comparable nonetheless a ordinary and brilliant characteristic of paradise. we're chuffed, and we're lucky…. We make for every different: companionship, intimacy, affection, rhapsody. ” RIVAL An opponent in a competition. through the Roman Empire a guy who had water rights to an analogous circulate as one other was once a rivalis, from rivus, move or brook. on the grounds that competitions usually arose, rivalis took at the that means of competitor. humans residing throughout a circulate from one another, or close to one another at the related aspect, have frequently quarreled approximately fishing rights, the fitting to construct a dam, or different privileges. Our English rival commemorates such competitiveness. In smooth phrases it refers back to the competitiveness of friends, as do contention and rivalrous. Al Gore writes, “The center of the protection schedule is maintaining lives—and we now recognize that the variety of those who will die of AIDS within the first decade of the twenty first century will rival the quantity that died in all of the wars in the entire many years of the 20 th century.

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