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Where was the rum company Bacardi founded?


Old Words Never Die


By Christine Lovatt

Old words never die...they just live on as part of other words. For instance, we no longer have the gorm (understanding) or the feck (vitality) to work out why we have no list (appetite) for keeping alive old words with reck (care) and ruth (sympathy). But at least these words survive in a lesser form: as in gormless, feckless, listless, reckless and ruthless.

We don’t use the word grue  any more, but gruesome has survived, as have fulsome, winsome and handsome. Grue originally meant to shiver, no doubt with fear, as gruesome means inspiring horror.

Fulsome of course came from full-some, and means exceeding the bounds of good taste. Winsome was wynn-some, wynn being an Old English word meaning joy. Handsome originally meant easily manipulated or handled. Men might not be so keen to be called handsome now!

The words swash and buckler are not used any more but we still have swashbuckler, a wonderful word meaning a flamboyant swordsman. Swash originally meant strike and buckler was a small shield, so a swashbuckler used to strike his shield as a sign of aggression.

Fang was an old Norse word meaning to capture, leading to newfangled meaning recently taken or objectionably modern.

Raring to go? Raring probably comes from rearing, maybe from the action of a horse rearing up on his hind legs when eager to be off.

Shrove Tuesday is still the official name for Pancake Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Shrove is a past tense of the old word shrive meaning to confess.  Shrove Tuesday was the day you made your confession before Lent.

Happy Puzzling!

1 Response to

Old Words Never Die

July 02, 2007 at 2:48 AM


If only I could remember all that! I love confounding my boyfriend with words and their meanings. Which doesn't take much I hasten to add ;)