Snirtle

An interesting word I learnt yesterday from the Something Rhymes With Purple podcast was snirtle, which means “to try to suppress your laughter (often without success)”.

laughing

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary it is Scots and means “to laugh with snorts”, and Wiktionary defines it as “to snigger” or “a snigger”.

According to Dictionaries of the Scots Language /
Dictionars o the Scots Leid
, snirtle [ˈsnɪrtəl] is a variation of snirt, which means “to snigger, to make a noise through the nose when attempting to stifle laughter, to sneer”, “to snort, to breathe sharply and jerkily through the nose”, or “a snigger, a suppressed laugh”.

Some related expressions and examples of how it’s used:

  • to snirt(le) (with)in one’s sleeve = to snigger surreptitiously
  • to snirt out a-laughing = to burst out into laughter, after having unsuccessfully tried to stifle it
  • The young were snirtin’ in their sleeves
  • He snirtled in an ecstasy of disgust
  • Mary, still choking, snirted tea over the table

Snirtle and snirt are probably initative of the sounds you make when you snirt or snirtle.

Are there words with similar meanings in other languages?

¡Guácala!

One of the Spanish words I learnt today was ¡guácala! [ˈɡwa.ka.la], which means yuck! ew! gross! it’s disgusting! and similar exclamations of disgust. It’s used in El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and the Dominican Republic to indicate dislike, disgust, or rejection [source].

*****GUACALA**** golosina visual ***nutritiva y saladita

It comes from guacal (wooden crate, tub, calabash tree), from the Classical Nahuatl huacalli [kwaˈkalːi] (wooden crate) [source]. Why a word for a wooden crate became an exclamation of disgust is not clear.

Here are some examples of how it’s used (from ReversoContext and Duolingo):

  • ¡Guácala! ¡Sabe horrible! = Yuck! It tastes horrible!
  • ¡Guácala, casi lo pisé! = Ew, I almost stepped in it.
  • ¡No, guácala! = No, it’s disgusting!
  • ¡Guácala, mal postre = Euhhh… bad pie

Related words include:

  • guácara = vomit
  • guacarear = to vomit

Both of which are used in Mexico.

Other Spanish words with a similar meaning include:

  • ¡Qué asco! = Yuck! How revolting! How disgusting!
  • ¡Puaj! = Ew! Yeech! Blecchh! Yuk! Phooey! Gross!
  • ¡Uf! = Phew! Ugh!
  • ¡Puf! = Yuck!

Are there other words in Spanish with a similar meaning?

What about equivalent words in other languages?

One of my favourite expressions in Welsh is ych a fi! [əx ə viː], which means yuck! [source].

The word ych, pronounced [ɨːχ/iːχ], also means ox.

Longhaired Kites

An interesting Spanish word I learnt today is cometa [koˈmeta], which means both kite and comet. It comes from the Latin word comēta, an alternative version of comētēs (comet, meteor, shooting star; portent of disaster), from the Ancient Greek κομήτης (komḗtēs, – longhaired, comet), which refers to the tail of a comet, from κομᾰ́ω (komáō – let the hair grow long) and -της (-tēs – a suffix that forms nouns) [source].

Cometas

Related words and expressions include:

  • cometa voladora = hang gilder
  • hacer volar una cometa = to fly a kite

Other words for kite in Spanish include [source]:

  • papalote in Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, from the Classical Nahuatl pāpalōtl (butterfly) [source]
  • barrilete in Argentina, Nicaragua, a diminutive of barril (barrel) [source]
  • piscucha or papalota in El Salvador – the former of unknown origin. The latter from Classical Nahuatl like papalote
  • volantín in Peru, Chile, Argentina, probably from volar (to fly)
  • chiringa in Puerto Rico, probably a version of chiringo which s used to mean smal in Puerto Rico and Cuba [source]

Are there any other words for kite in other Spanish-speaking countries?

Red Kites - Gigrin Farm Wales

Kite, as in the bird of prey of the subfamily Milvinae, is milano in Spanish, which also means the down of a thistle and flying gurnard (Dactylopteridae) – a type of fish. This comes from the Vulgar Latin *milānus, from the Latin milvus (kite, gurnard) [source].

Neshness

If someone told you they were feeling a bit nesh, would you know what they meant?

Nesh [nɛʃ] means “sensitive to the cold” and “timid or cowardly”, according to Dictionary.com, and is apparently used in in northern and Midlands English dialects. Although I grew up in the northwest of England, I’d never heard it before a friend mentioned it yesterday.

According to Wiktionary it means:

  • Soft, tender, sensitive, yielding
  • Delicate, weak, poor-spirited, susceptible to cold weather, harsh conditions etc
  • Soft, friable, crumbly

As a verb it means “to make soft, tender or weak”, or “to act timidly”.

It comes from the Middle English nesh/nesch/nesche, from the Old English hnesċe/ hnysċe/hnæsċe (soft, tender, mild; weak, delicate; slack, negligent; effeminate, wanton), from the Proto-West Germanic *hnaskwī (soft), from the Proto-Germanic *hnaskuz (soft, tender), from the Proto-Indo-European *knēs-/*kenes- (to scratch, scrape, rub).

Related words include:

  • neshen = to make tender or soft, to mollify
  • neshness = the condition of being nesh

Chocolate Beetroot Brownies

From the same roots we get the German word naschen (to nibble, to eat sweets on the sly), and the English word nosh (food, a light meal or snack, to eat), via the Yiddish word נאַשן‎ (nashn – to snack, eat) [source].

Flaming Llamas!

In Spanish the word llama has several different meanings. As well as being a domesticated South American camelid of the genus Lama glama, it also a flame, and means “he/she/it calls”, or in other words the third person singular present tense form of the verb llamar (to summon, call, knock, ring). Each version of llama comes from a different root [source].

The animal llama [ˈʎama] comes from the the Quechua word llama. Other members of the genus lama include:

  • alpaca [alˈpaka] (Vicugna pacos) comes from the Aymara word allpaqa
  • guanaco [ɡwaˈnako] (Lama guanicoe) comes from the Quechua word wanaku
  • vicuña [biˈkuɲa] (Lama vicugna / Vicugna vicugna) comes from wik’uña

llama_1

The flaming version of llama, which is pronounced [ˈʝama/ˈɟ͡ʝa.ma], is an alternative version of flama (flame), and comes from the Latin flamma (flame, fire), from the Proto-Italic *flagmā, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰlē- (to shimmer, gleam, shine) [source].

Junior Jarl squad

Some English words from the same root include flame, flambé and flagrant.

Llamar [ʝaˈmaɾ/ɟ͡ʝaˈmaɾ] (to summon, call, etc) comes from the Old Spanish lamar, from the Latin clāmāre, from clamō (cry out, clamer, yell, shout), from the Proto-Indo-European *kelh₁- (to shout) [source].

Words from the same root include acclaim, claim, clamour, council and haul [source].

When I see words beginning with a double l, which are quite common in Spanish, I have to stop myself giving them a Welsh pronounciation [ɬ]. There is in fact a Welsh word which resembles llamallamu, which means to jump, leap, bound, spring. It comes from the Proto-Celtic word *lanxsman (jump), from the Proto-Indo-European *h₁lengʷʰ- (light; move lightly) [source]. The Welsh for llama is lama, by the way.

Cow Throwing

Yesterday I had my second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine (AstraZeneca), and feel just fine. So I thought I’d look at the origins of vaccine and related words.

Vaccine

Vaccine comes from the Latin word vaccīnus (of or derived from a cow), from vacca (cow), from the Proto-Indo-European *woḱéh₂ (cow) [source]. Why cows? Well, from 1796 to 1840, people were vaccinated against smallpox by being infect with cowpox (variola vaccīna), a much less serious virus – a procedure developed by Edward Jenner [source].

Some related words include:

immunisation / immunization = the process by which an individual is safely exposed in a controlled manner to a material that is designed to prime their immune system against that material. From the French immunisation. Coined by Albert Calmette (1863-1933), a French physician, bacteriologist and immunologist, who developed a vaccine against tuberculosis, and the first antivenom for snake venom [source]

inoculation = the introduction of an antigenic substance or vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease. From the Latin inoculātio (inoculation, ingrafting), from inoculō (I ingraft an eye or bud of one tree into another, inoculate, graft by budding, implant), from in- (in, within, inside) and oculus (eye) [source]

injection = the act of injecting, or something that is injected. From the Middle French injection, from Latin iniectio/injectiō (injection, inspiration, instillation), from iniciō (I throw, cast, hurl or place in), from in- (in, within, inside) and iaciō (throw, hurl) [source]