Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Thursday, January 5, 2012



What better time of year to ponder beginnings?

The verb begin comes to modern English through Old English from Dutch, Old High German, & Old Frisian. Its various meanings over the years have included:

to undertake
to attempt
to cut open
to open up

The verb start comes from the same source languages, and over the years has included these shades of meaning:

to stare
to fall
to tumble, hurl, throw or plunge
to rush
to move or spring suddenly
to move, leave, or depart

The verb and adjective open also came to modern English through Old English from Germanic and Scandinavian sources. Its grandmother words have included these meanings:

an act of opening
not closed down
uncovered, bare, plain or evident
raised up
to cease to be secretive
candid, liberal, generous

How should all these historic shades of meaning affect our thinking in terms of launching into a new year? In terms of beginning a novel?

I certainly have tumbled my way into a story, & I love the idea that a story somehow involves the author’s decision to cease being secretive.

How about you?

My thanks go out to this week’s sources,,, & the OED.


  1. I like the idea of springing suddenly into the new year with a little help from the Old Frisians.

  2. Your intellect with words is amazing. Keep them coming.

    BTW, I like to tumble into a novel and hurl my words onto the page. :)

  3. Hi Anne & Jean Ann,
    I can imagine you both springing into the new year in the company of Old Frisians while hurling words on the page.

  4. I especially like the definitions for "open", what a wonderful and expressive word. I opened my new year with weekends with family and then friends. Now I must tumble back into my writing!