Booze

Hello,

This week’s word is booze. Not because NaNoWriMo 2019 is driving me to drink (it’s not, honest!) but because I was out buying wine for the festive season at the weekend.

Smithwicks bottled water as well as ale

Booze has been a verb since as early as the 1300s when it was spelled bouse. By the 1600s it was bouze and by the 1700s we had booze (to drink heavily). Using booze as a noun appeared in the 1800s, possibly earlier too.

The original bouse came into English from the Middle Dutch verb busen (to drink heavily) which is turn came from Middle High German bus (to swell or inflate) – so beer bellies must have been a thing back in history as well as in more modern times.

Perhaps the most fun connection with booze as a word is the 1800s distillery run in Philadelphia by a man called E.G. Booz. Johnson’s early dictionary of English has an entry for a drink called rambooze made of wine, ale, eggs, and sugar during the winter or wine, milk, sugar, and rose-water in the summer. Perhaps that will make a comeback during the upcoming festive season?

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

p.s. I hope you’re all flying along if you’re taking the novel-in-a-month NaNo challenge. I’m on 33,147 words today and pretty happy because I managed to make myself cry at the right part of the story this morning. If I can’t make myself cry, I’ve no hope with future readers, right?

The Whole Kit and Caboodle

Hello,

This week’s word is caboodle and the phrase kit and caboodle, as nobody really uses caboodle solo anymore. Although it’s probably worth mentioning that there’s a book token company called by that name who run book title quizzes which are fun, although sadly I’ve never won.

What does kit and caboodle mean anyhow? It’s a collection of things, generally implying a very full, or perhaps even over-complete, collection. In that sense it is akin to the idea of packing the kitchen sink.

Kit and caboodle have similar meanings which is where the over-complete meaning arises. Kit relates to tool-kit or a soldier’s kit-bag – a set of things you need to do a particular task. Caboodle means a collection too, but this time probably comprised of people rather than objects or tools.

my crochet caboodle

It appears that caboodle was rarely used solo outside of American English and the phrase itself dates to the late 1800s. A boodle was a term for a pile of money, especially at the gaming tables at that time. It appears this phrase is one the Americans gave us. Boodle may come from the Dutch word boedel (property) which would fit in with the betting usage. The dictionaries don’t have a definitive answer for this one. There’s even an alternate spelling – kaboodle. But for a disputed phrase it sure is a popular one with a good sound to it. Kit and caboodle isn’t disappearing anytime soon.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

p.s. I’ve made it to 20,000 words on my NaNoWriMo project. I hope you’re enjoying the challenge too if you’re taking part.

The Explosive Origin of the word Guy

Hello,

This week’s word comes with thanks to friend of the blog, Damian T Gordon, and it’s a simple word with an explosive history – guy.

There are two nouns in English spelled as guy and both date to the 1600s. The first is a nautical one – a rope, chain, or wire which comes from Old French and the word guide. You’ll find guy-lines on sailing boats.

The second gives us the modern use (in American English since 1847) of guy to mean a person, usually male. Guy was used earlier in British English (1830s) for a poorly dressed man but originally it was associated with an effigy of Guy Fawkes (typically dressed in old cast off clothes) which were paraded through the streets by children on the 5th of November and then burned on top of a bonfire.

That explains where the word comes from but why were children burning guys in the first place? All the clues you need are in the rhyme which begins –

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

I won’t include the entire text as it descends into sectarianism. The 5th of November is when children, and adults, celebrate the foiling of Guy Fawke’s (1570-1606) plot to blow up the British Houses of Parliament at Westminster on that date in 1605.

Religion was a contentious issue in Britain at that time. Fawke’s and his fellow conspirators wanted to kill Protestant King James I and replace him with a Catholic monarch. When the plot was exposed they had already stockpiled gunpowder in a cellar beneath the parliament buildings and Guy was caught red handed there.

With Westminster behind scaffolding currently, we’ll make do with a red phone box

The 5th of November is still remembered with bonfires and fireworks in Britain and is more popular there than Halloween. Certain areas are particularly keen on the event. The town of Lewes has multiple competing Bonfire Societies battling for the best bonfire and display, often with topical characters burned alongside Fawkes.

Although born in England, Guy was also known as Guido, when fighting overseas so we narrowly avoided having a musical called “Guidos and Dolls”.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

p.s. Hello to several new readers of the blog, some of whom found me via the NaNoWriMo novel-writing challenge. I made it to 8,110 words today – so the month is off to a good start.

Eldritch

Hello,

In honour of the forthcoming feast of Halloween (or Samhain depending on your viewpoint) I’ve chose eldritch as the word this week.

Eldritch describes something as weird, sinister, or ghostly. The left-handed amongst you won’t be happy with sinister being in that grouping, but that’s another day’s exploration. Either way eldritch seems appropriate for the season when the darkness gathers earlier and earlier in the day, mists swirl through forests, and numerous smaller folk jump out demanding treats.

“Traditional Irish halloween Jack-o’-lantern” by Rannpháirtí anaithnid at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Traditional_Irish_halloween_Jack-o%27-lantern.jpg#/media/File:Traditional_Irish_halloween_Jack-o%27-lantern.jpg

There is considerable confusion about the origin of the word eldritch, which is about 500 years old. Merriam Webster reckon it originally meant fairyland thanks to Middle English’s elfriche. The word riche or rice was an Old English word for realm or kingdom. YourDictionary points out that el means strange or other, so the reference is to something otherworldly. Others connect the el to elves. Either way we’re talking about the malicious, scary forms of fairies here, rather than the twinkly type who live in pretty garden flowers.

My favourite source with contentious word histories is Etymology Online and they lean towards el being else or otherwise and ritch relating to realm or kingdom making eldritch describe something which comes from the otherworld, a land which is not like ours. That would certainly describe some of the eldritch creatures who will arrive at my door after dark on Halloween looking for sweet bribes to leave me in peace. I think I’ll pay up!

Light a pumpkin to scare away the eldritch creatures!

If you’re interested in other spooky words – check out Macabre and Samhainophobia and Gaelic Halloween, previous Wordfoolery posts at this eldritch time of year when the veil between our world and the otherworld is weak and porous. Next week I’ll be exploring the word guy and its link to the 5th of November.

Until next time, boo!

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

p.s. Are any of you taking on the NaNoWriMo novel-writing challenge during November? It will be my 13th year so I’m busy sharpening pencils and crafting my outline this week. Later today I’ll be hosting the Kick Off event for my region –  Ireland North East.

Corny

Hello,

This week’s word is corny. Something is corny if it’s banal or sentimental so it’s generally used in a derogatory fashion. The question is – how did mawkish sentimentality become associated with delicious corn on the cob, or corn off the cob for that matter?

According to the QI Elves on the No Such Thing As A Fish podcast – we have the word corny thanks to American corn farmers and they’re mostly right.

Corny originated as American English slang in 1932 to describe something as sentimental, old-fashioned, and appealing to country folk.

Assuming all North American country folk are involved in farming corn is a stretch, however 59% of US farmland is growing it even today. That’s 90 million acres of land and it’s 95% of the feed grain produced in the country. So perhaps associating American farmers with corn production isn’t too wide of the mark. I remain to be convinced of their penchant for old-fashioned, corny sentimentality though.

Corny entered the English language a little earlier than the 1930s, however. Chaucer used the word to describe ale in the late 1300s, possibly meaning the drink was malty. From the 1570s corny could also describe corn or anything full of corn – which seems logical. It took another 370 years to arrive as a way to denigrate songs and movies as cloyingly sweet or old-fashioned.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and corn-eating,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

Slumgullion

Hello,

This week’s word is slumgullion. This one has been on my “to write about” list for a while because it looked like fun. I didn’t even know what it meant.

Thanks to Merriam Webster (and the audio pronunciation is available there too) for the definition. Slumgullion is a meat stew. Other dictionaries add that this one is an informal (a.k.a. slang) American English word, which probably explains why I hadn’t heard of it. Also they note slumgullion isn’t filled with the most expensive cuts of meat.

Finding a definitive recipe for a stew which was created when the cook needed to use whatever he or she could lay their hands on is a tricky prospect. Most of the modern recipes suggest using minced beef, various chopped vegetables, plus stock and perhaps tinned tomatoes. The Shared Tastes blog explored the older recipes and even includes one using moose meat (not common in my local shop here in Ireland). Various references to slumgullion in literature associate it with the whaling ships and pirates so it might be the stew cousin to my favourite historic seafaring dish, salmagundi. Either way, if you fancy cooking a pot of slumgullion, you can pretty much invent your own version.

Slumgullion was probably a word created by compounding slum and gullion around the 1840s. Slum in this case had nothing to do with urban ghettos. It was an Old English word for slime. Gullion was a dialect word for mud or a cesspool. It may have reached English from Scots, or Irish where the word goilín means a pit or pool.

Slumgullion may have started on whaling ships. One of the earliest print usages was spelled as slobgullion in “Moby Dick” to describe the watery gloop which drains from whale blubber, and perhaps reminded sailors of particularly poor stew in the galley. The word appears to have moved with the sailors to the mines during the Californian Gold Rush to describe the muddy sludge at a mining sluice. The use to describe a stew dates to the 1870s.

According to “The Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English” (Eric Partridge) there’s even a related word – a slubberdegullion who is a dirty slobbering fellow. Perhaps such a character created the first stew?

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

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Eponym Series – Rugby

Hello,

With the group stages of the Ruby World Cup almost complete in Japan, it’s a good time to dip back into my nonfiction book “How To Get Your Name In The Dictionary” (available in paperback and ebook formats on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Kindle, Kobo, Apple Books, and Overdrive). Why? Because rugby is an eponym. Well, it’s a toponym actually (a word named for a place) so this week the word history of rugby is about the word, the people, and the place.

{extract from “How To Get Your Name In The Dictionary” copyright Grace Tierney}

The sport of rugby, a fast game of kicking and running with an oval ball involving moves like line-outs, rucks, mauls, and scrums, is named for the private boys’ school Rugby.

Popular legend has it that the game was created in 1823 when William Ellis Webb with a fine disregard for the rules of football (soccer) took the ball in his arms and ran with it. There’s little proof this actually happened but it is so firmly entrenched in the minds of rugby players and supporters worldwide that when they came to name the Rugby World Cup trophy they called it after Webb. Webb played cricket, but not rugby, for Oxford University and became a clergyman.

Early forms of soccer had been played since the Middle Ages, and probably even in Roman times as a game called harpastum. It often resembled a mob rather than a sport with the entire village on one side or the other. Each side struggled to kick an inflated pig’s bladder through the town to markers to win.

Predictably the wildness of these games led them to be outlawed. In the period 1314-1527 nine European monarchs outlawed the playing of football and encouraged their subjects to practice their archery instead which was a nice useful skill for warfare. Youths continued to play football.

Saint Paul’s School Rugby Team in the 1950s

By 1750, the game of football, as played at the school in Rugby, allowed the handling of the ball and still involved huge numbers of players on each side, but nobody was allowed run with it in their hands towards the goal, at least until Webb presumably gave it a go. The introduction of running with ball in hand happened there sometime between 1820 and 1830 and was probably met with outrage on this “breaking” of the rules. However by 1841 it had become an essential part of the game. Rugby and soccer were different sports from that time.

The game, and its formal code of rules, came to be played at other private boys’ schools and gradually crept into mainstream sporting life. By 1871 the Rugby Football Union was founded and more detailed rules drawn up. Wasps, a well-known rugby union club, missed out on being a founding member of the Rugby Football Union because their representative went to the wrong pub for the meeting.

Later the sport spawned American football and Australian Rules football. In 1876 there was a schism, largely down to money and class issues, in the rugby world that resulted in rugby union and rugby league and eventual changes in rules on both sides.

In 1995 rugby union became a professional sport. The first Rugby World Cup was played in 1987. The winner gets the Webb Ellis Cup in memory of the man who probably didn’t invent the game at Rugby School, England.

Many of the national rugby union sides have nicknames, often related to animals – the Springboks (South Africa), All Blacks (New Zealand), les Bleus (France), the Wallabies (Australian), los Pumas (Argentina), the Eagles (U.S.A.), and the Dragons (Wales).

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

Consider supporting this blog by buying my eponym book. Then you can read more about the people who gave their names to the English language and their extraordinary lives. Everybody from chefs to fashion icons are there, from villains to scientists and inventors. It’s a perfect book for dipping into, packed with wordy trivia and history. All the book details are here.