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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Hello,

Wordfoolery is just back from her holiday in Tuscany, Italy. I’m tempted to discuss an Italian word this week in honour of my trip but honestly my Italian isn’t strong enough despite consuming liberal quantities of gelati to aid fluency. The pomegranate ice-creams in San Gimignano and the peach in Castellina were the best, in case you’re interested.

Siena Pallio parade - check out the shoes!

Siena Pallio parade – check out the shoes!

Instead I’m opting for a medical term – idiopathic. This was on my mind as I had to consult my local doctor before departure for a checkup. He was obviously using a seasonal checklist as he reminded me to wear sunscreen (I’m a factor 50 girl all the way) and recommended a new cream to use in addition to anti-histamine tablets for my severe idiopathic urticaria.

I stared at him for a moment. That sounded scary and I didn’t remember having any horrid sounding diseases. He caught my look and explained that’s the medical term for the fact that a simple insect bite causes me to swell up.

But idiopathic caught my mind as it sounded way too close to idiot for my liking. Was this a sneaky doctor way to laugh at those of us covered in itchy lumps every summer?

Luckily he wasn’t mocking me. It just means that the disease has an unknown cause. The word origins are Greek (not Italian, that would be too neat) – idios – one’s own, and pathos – suffering. Literally idiopathic means a disease of its own kind.

Given that my reaction to the bites only began after a spider bite in Canada in my early twenties, I know the cause of my disease, but I’ll let the doc away with it for the moment. Now at least I have a rather grand name for an irritating side-effect of the summer.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling. Don’t let those mozzies bite and don’t forget the sun-screen ;-)

Grace

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Hello,

this week’s word is hoodwinked (pronunciation here) which most will know as a evocative way of saying tricked or deceived. But its word origins are a little more unusual.

Falconry Centre at Alliwee Caves

Falconry Centre at Alliwee Caves

The Masonic Dictonary explains that hood comes from Old German and meant a head covering like a hat or helmet. You then add on wink, from the same language origins, meaning to close the eyes (so the next time a small child describes their blink as a wink, they’re actually correct). The combination of hood and wink described a headdress which covered the head and closed the eyes, and it came from the ancient sport of falconry where the trained bird of prey wears a hoodwink until the falconer wants to let it fly after prey.

It’s easy to see how the idea of not seeing truthfully could turn into the idea of deliberately stopping the truth being seen.

But why the Masonic connection?

Those being initiated into the order wear a hoodwink. It heightens their senses and is used as a representation of mystical darkness. So now you know.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace

p.s. if you ever get a chance to visit a falconer, grab it. I’ve been lucky enough to see these amazing birds, and their handlers, at Alliwee (Co. Clare), and at the Bird Control Unit at Baldonnell airport (Co. Dublin) where they are used to keep down local bird life around the runways, thus limiting bird-strike issues.

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Cover Image for Hooked Hello,

This week I’ve been thinking about the words we use to refer to the ones we love (be that romantic, friendly, or familial love). Simple terms like my love, darling, or dearie all refer to the actual love, but others have a unifying theme.

In English, for example, we say honey, sugar, sweetie, sweetpea, pumpkin, cupcake – all words that say the object of our affection is sweet in some way.

Some of these sugary terms are used in other languages and cultures too, but not always. However the term used will always refer to something that culture values.

In Thai, for example, you may call them your little elephant (elephants are seen as very lucky). In Arabic a man may refer to a woman as being his gazelle. A Russian may call you their little kitten or little bird. If a Frenchman calls you his little cabbage then you’ve been complimented. In Argentina you might be called my bug, or my sky (high and unreachable!). In Finland you could be somebody’s breadcrumb. In Ecudor couples may call each other fatty (yes it’s a positive term there), and in Danish you’d be skat which means treasure and is also the word for taxes – gulp. My favourite Irish (Gaelic) term is mo ghrá which means “my love”, but there’s also mo chuisle mo chroí which means “the pulse of my heart”.

You’ll find a more complete list here and here.

So while love may make the world go round, you may need to bring your dictionary with you on the trip.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace

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Hello,

This week’s word is money. Not because I’ve found a horde of gold. Nor because it’s a particularly fun word to say. But because its word origins are interesting.

First, a quick recap on your Greek and Roman gods. You probably remember the Greek god Zeus (big beard, lightening bolt, king of the gods, the works). He’s known as Jupiter or Jove to the Romans.

Jupiter was married to his sister, Juno (known as Hera to the Greeks). She had the month of June named after her and was patron of marriage.

Roman Coin (replica)

Roman Coin (replica)

There was a flock of sacred geese kept in the temple of Juno in Rome. The story goes (according to Livy, a Roman historian who lived 400 years later) that around 390 B.C. the Gauls (a.k.a the French) tried a night attack on Rome but the noisy geese raised the alarm and saved the city. The Gauls were sneaking up on the Temple of Capitoline Jupiter (dedicated to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva) which contained the gold, silver, and bronze treasury of ancient Rome. Basically it was a heist gone wrong on the wealth of the most powerful empire in the Western world.

After this incident Juno got a new title – Juno Moneta – Juno who warns – and in 344 B.C. a temple to Juno Moneta was built in Rome as the new treasury and mint. I’ll bet they hired in a few more geese at the same time.

roman mint cropped

Temple of Moneta / The Roman Mint

 

Monetary, money, and mint all come from the word moneta. Apparently the temple’s columns and walls were gilded and the money was stored beneath. It must have shone in the Italian sunshine. Sadly that splendour is no more but you can visit its exterior on a tour of the Roman Forum, as I did last month.

Until next time, happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace

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Woggle

Hello,

This week Wordfoolery brings you woggle because it sounds funny and conjures images of a wobbly teddy bear on a high wire. I’ve spent the last two weekends camping, first with my Beaver Scouts and then helping with the Cub Scouts because they were short-handed. It’s amazing how much gear children leave in lost property after a camp and woggles are very high on that list because they’re small and easy to misplace.

woggle I was really hoping that the woggle was named for a person – Mrs Esmerelda Woggle of Woggledon Hall, Surrey perhaps? Then I could have included it in my eponym series but although the woggle was invented, it wasn’t by Esmerelda.

The woggle was invented by an Australian Scout Bill Shankley in the 1920s as a device to tie a neckerchief – that’s the coloured scarf worn by Scouts and Girl Guides worldwide. There are a number of different designs now and some are only allowed for specific levels of Scouting achievement or particular groups but basically if it holds together the ends of your necker, it’s a woggle. Now I have woggle-envy after seeing the Maori head carved woggles used in New Zealand.

The word woggle can also be used as a verb. According to Merriam Webster it means to alter or waggle something. Presumably a Scout could woggle his woggle then? Or wiggle-waggle his woggle?

Now that’s why I enjoy a word like woggle.

I’ll be travelling for the next two weeks but will try to schedule a post here during my absence. Failing that, I’ll be wordfooling again on the 8th of July.

Until next time happy reading, writing and wordfooling.

Grace

Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn or sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

 

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Hello,

Clomantagh Castle, Kilkenny, Ireland

Clomantagh Castle, Kilkenny, Ireland

This week’s word (brought to you slightly late because I was fooling around at Clomantagh Castle last weekend) is obloquy (pronunciation here “ob-luh-qui”). It means invective, verbal abuse, vitriol, vituperation, imprecate, slur, and fulmination. It again prompts a query about why we have so many words of abuse and anger in the English language. I just don’t see the same level of creative word-invention when it comes to saying something good about someone.

But whatever the reason, we’re rather good at heaping obloquy on those we dislike and now at least you know the term for that action.

The word dates from the 15th century (much like that castle, restored by the Irish Landmark Trust) and comes from Latin/French/Middle English roots of ob meaning against and loqui – meaning to speak.

I hope you’re not the victim of obloquy this week. Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling instead.

Grace

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Hello,

This week’s word is folly. I have always loved architectural follies and this blog is dedicated to fools, or more specifically word-fools, so follies fit here.

Folly (pronounced foll-ee) is a noun meaning 1. foolishness or foolish actions and 2. a useless, extravagant structure. Sadly the grounds of my own garden are far too small for such an edifice. I don’t have the resources of the Victorian estate owners who constructed them to create a focal point for their gardens. But I’ve been lucky enough to encounter many follies in my travels. The grounds of the former Guinness house in St. Anne’s Park, Raheny wasn’t too far from my childhood home and I loved the classical follies along the stream there. In fact they are planning a follies trail there in what is now a large public park.

Spire of Lloyd

Spire of Lloyd

I also studied the nearby Casino at Marino in art class at school. It’s accessible by guided tour only but is worth a trip if you’re in Dublin. Every time I visit my in-laws  in Cavan we drive past my personal favourite – the inland lighthouse, the Spire of Lloyd at Kells. Built to provide a landmark for the returning hunt it sometimes has a beam from the top to complete the picture.

I’d love to visit the cast-iron biscuit barrel of a tomb which is the Dennis Mausoleum of Clonbern in Co. Galway for it’s sheer oddness. Next weekend I’m off to Kilkenny so I’ll be keeping an eye out for Stroan Fountain and its oddly spherical enclosed stone fountain on the way. I also yearn to see the island mini-fort of Gibraltar in the gardens of LarchHill, Co. Kildare.

The Follies Trust say that follies are joyful little buildings that aim to please. I think we need more of them and should rejoice in the ones we have. They are quirky, architecturally fun, and enhance the landscape. It’s claimed that Ireland has more follies per square mile than anywhere else in the world and that makes me ridiculously proud. Have a look at their website for a small selection of photos of follies they’ve visited/restored – places like the pyramid in Co. Mayo, or the Jealous Wall at Belvedere House Mullingar (it is really very convincing in real life).

May your week be full of follies,

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace

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