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, March 29, 2018

Kindness

Kindness

Here at Wordmonger, we’re celebrating the last three weeks of March by focusing on wise women’s words. March 15 we considered progress. March 22 we pondered lying. This week we’ll take a look at what some wise women had/have to say about kindness.

When the milk of human kindness turns sour, it is a singularly unpalatable draught.
Agnes Repplier

If you stop to be kind, you must swerve often from your path.
Mary Webb

When kindness has left people, even for a few moments, we become afraid of them, as if their reason has left them.
Willa Cather

Kindness is always fashionable.
Amelia E. Barr

I prefer you to make mistakes in kindness than work miracles in unkindness.
Mother Teresa

So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind,
Is all the sad world needs.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

May you take every opportunity to spread some kindness.



My thanks go out to this week’s sources: The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women., Oxford Dictionary, & Etymonline.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Lying

Lying

Here at Wordmonger, we celebrated the last week by considering some wise women’s thoughts regarding progress. This week we’ll take a look at what some wise women had/have to say about lying. Next week, who knows?

Elvira always lied to herself before she lied to anybody else, since this gave her a conviction of moral honesty.
Phyllis Bottome

Particular lies may speak a general truth.
George Eliot

You can lock up from a thief, but you can’t from a liar.
Flora Thompson

Once admit the idea that it is good to lie for religion’s sake, and the lie may grow to any dimensions. A little lie may serve a man, but it is hard to calculate how big a lie may be wanted to serve God.
Frances B. Cobbe

Cowards are not invariably liars, but liars are invariably cowards.
Minna Thomas Antrim

Lying is an occupation,
Used by all who mean to rise;
Politicians owe their station
But to well concerted lies.
Letitia Pilkington

May you manage to avoid liars and lies.



My thanks go out to this week’s sources: The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women., Oxford Dictionary, & Etymonline.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Progress

Progress

Here at Wordmonger, we’re celebrating the last three weeks of Women’s History Month by focusing on selected words of selected women. This week we’ll take a look at some wise women ’s thoughts about progress.


“Progress” affects few. Only revolution can affect many.
Alice Walker 

Even the “worst blizzard of the century” accumulates one flake at a time.
Mary Kay Blakely

This seems to be the law of progress in everything we do; it moves along a spiral rather than perpendicular; we seem to be actually going out of the way, and yet it turns out that we were really moving upward all the time.
Frances E. Willard

We have not crawled so very far
up our individual grass-blade
toward our individual star.
Hilda Doolittle

Things that don’t get better, get worse.
Ellen Sue Stern

If a man has lived in a tradition which tells him that nothing can be done about his human condition, to believe that progress is possible may well be the greatest revolution of all.
Barbara Ward

May whatever progress you’re hoping for in your life come to fruition.



My thanks go out to this week’s sources: The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women., Oxford Dictionary, & Etymonline.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Pants

Pants

What’s up with the words used to define the articles of clothing in which we encase our legs?

Since the 1200s, English speakers have referred to a bifurcated garment worn by men covering from the waist to the knees, as breeches. This word most likely came from a Proto-Indo European word that meant to break, fork, or split. By 1905 in America, breeches became britches..

The word pants came from the word pantaloons, which originally meant a kind of tights, & has been a part of English since the 1660s. About 1798, the word pantaloons started meaning long trousers. By the 1840s, pantaloons got truncated to become pants.

Since 1763 English-speaking folks have worn leggings, originally an extra outer covering to protect the legs. 

Trousers started out in English as trouzes in the 1580s (a men’s garment covering the lower body & each leg separately). It seems the second - got added to pattern trousers after the word drawers

And the word slacks was born in the military about 1824. It referred to loose trousers. Its parent Old English word meant sluggish, indolent or lacking energy. We still find this branch of meaning in the idiom take up some slack & the word slacker

Tights were originally tight fitting breeches & have been with us since 1827.

And here are some related idioms:
1835 — too big for one’s breeches/britches, first put on paper by Davy Crocket in reference to Andrew Jackson.
1904 — slacker
1931 — to wear the pants in a family
1932 — to be caught with one’s pants down
1942 — by the seat of one’s pants 
1968 — cut someone some slack
1975 — slack key guitar

So, fellow pant-wearers (& non-pant-wearers), does all that resonate with you? Anything surprising?


My thanks go out to this week’s sources: phrases.org, Merriam Webster, Collins Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, & Etymonline.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

There's not a word for it

There’s not a word for it

Writers are always trying to shake it up vocabulary-wise so we don’t annoy readers by overusing a particular word. I’ve no idea how many serious discussions I’ve heard involving the search for a synonym for nod.

So what words fall in this category of having no single-word synonym? It seems there’s some buzz in the ether over the subject, but not much. The only thing word-enthusiasts seem to have agreed on is the uncreative, yet clear & honest label for such words — asynonyms. 

Here is a collection of asynonymous words posited here and there:

Everyday nouns like:
peach
broccoli
spinach
badger
iguana
slug
nod (also a verb)

Some nearly everyday verbs:
obviate
skip (a series of small jumps moving from one foot to the other) 

Specific science- & math-related words like:
gastroenterologist
otolaryngologist
appendectomy
isosceles
parallel

Some scarcely-heard tongue-twisters:
sphygmomanometer (the only one-word English label for a blood-pressure monitor)
agelast (a person who never laughs)
petrichor (the sound of rain hitting the hard ground)

Given my interests, I would add to the list the word etymologist. Good readers, given your interests, what asynonymous words would you add to the list?


My thanks go out to this week’s sources: the