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Posts Tagged ‘quagmire’

Hello,

I include words here for various reasons. This week’s word, quagmire, is a favourite of mine because it’s fun to say. It even sounds squelchy.

Quagmire has two meanings, one practical, the other more conceptual. In reality it is soft boggy ground that gives way underfoot. We have a plethora of quagmires in the hilly areas of Ireland thanks to our slightly damp climate and extensive peat bogs. The example above is rather mild, little more than a grumpy puddle, but somehow despite hiking through plenty of quagmires I don’t have any photos of them. This is probably because I usually have my mind focused on avoiding falling in rather than on photography. I do have a plan to photograph proper boggy ground next time though. I need visual aids to explain to parents why their Scouts come home covered in mud and why dispatching them without rain trousers is a poor idea. Some fault may fall on the teens themselves – rain trousers aren’t cool and some prefer to get soaked in the name of fashion, sigh.

Quagmire can also refer to a complex or hazardous predicament that is difficult to escape. We’ve all tangled with those and while the resultant mud may be metaphorical, which washes out excellently, it is an uncomfortable experience.

Quagmire dates back to the 1600s in the boggy sense and had the second meaning by the 1700s. It was formed from the joining of two words – quag and mire. Quag meant bog or marsh, possibly because the ground quaked underfoot. Mire goes back even further, the 1200s in fact, and again had the joint meaning of to become entangled and also of bog or swamp. Myrr, which entered English as mire, was a Norse word for moss than probably came from Old German originally. So quagmire really means a boggy bog.

Until next time, watch where you tread and I wish you happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

 

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