Water Trumpets

Last night while talking about the weather in French, as you do, one expression that came up was une trombe d’eau, which means a cloudbust, downpour or waterspout [source]. There have been several of these this week.

The word trombe [tʁɔ̃b] on its own means waterspout or whirlwind [source]. It comes from the Italian tromba (trumpet, horn, bugler, well, shaft), possibly from the Frankish *trumba (trumpet), which is of imitative origin [source].

Other phrases featuring trombe include:

  • entrer en trombe = to burst in, storm in
  • sortir en trombe = to burst out, storm out
  • partir en trombe = to accelerate away
  • passer en trombe = to zoom past, hurtle past

A related word from the same roots is trompe [tʁɔ̃p], which means a trumpet, the trunk of an elephant [source] or a squinch (a small arch, corbelling, etc, across an internal corner of a tower, used to support a superstructure such as a spire) [source].

Shiny brass 3

Another word with the same roots is tromper [tʁɔ̃.pe] (to deceive, cheat on, disapoint, elude), which comes from the Old French tromper (to tramp, trump, delude), from trompe (horn, trump, trumpet) [source].

The English word trumpet also comes from the same roots, via the Old French trompette (trumpet), a diminutive or trompe [source]. As does the word trombone, via the Italian trombone (trombone, annoying or boring person), from tromba (trumpet) and -one (augmentative suffix) [source].

The trump an elephant makes, which is also a slang word for flatulence in the UK, and used to mean a trumpet, comes from the Old French French trompe (horn, trump, trumpet) [source]. However trump as in a trump card or a suit in cards is thought to come from the French triomphe (triumph), or the Old French triumphe, from the Latin triumphus (a hymn in honour of Bacchus, a triumph or celebration), from the Old Latin triumpus, from the Etruscan *𐌈𐌓𐌉𐌀𐌌𐌐𐌄 (*θriampe), from the Ancient Greek θρίαμβος (thríambos – a hymn to Dionysus) [source].

Snoozle

Feeling tired? Maybe it’s time for a snoozle.

Curled up sleeping cat

Snoozle is a Scots word that means to snooze or doze, or to nuzzle, poke with the nose or snuggle [source].

Here are some examples of how it’s used:

  • Just to keep you frae drowsying and snoozling
  • Away! and snoozle yourself in your corner.
  • A’m gonnae hae a richt guid snoozle the noo
    I’m going to experience some high quality snuggling right now.

The last example comes from Miss PunnyPennie on TikTok, who inspired this post. You can hear how it at:

@misspunnypennie Did my loop work? 💙🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 #scottish #scottishtiktok #scotland #scots #scotslanguage #merida #brave ♬ original sound – Miss PunnyPennie

It’s a blend of snooze and nuzzle and is found in some English dialects, where it means to nuzzle affectionately [source].

A snooze is a brief period of sleep or a nap, and as a verb it means to sleep, especially briefly; to nap or doze; or to pause or postpone for a short while. It’s origins are unknown [source].

Nuzzle means to touch someone or something with the nose, or to bring the nose to the ground, to burrow with the nose, or thrust the nose into [source]. It comes from the Middle English noselyng (face-downward, on the nose, in a prostrate position), from nose (nose, beak) and -lyng (a suffix denoting direction, state or position) [source].

There’s something about the combination of letters in snoozle that appeals to me, especially the sn and the oo.

Some other Scots words beginning with snoo include:

  • snoofmadrune = a lazy or inactive person
  • snooie = to toss the head as if displeased (of cattle)
  • snoove = to become maudlin or sloppily sentimental

Are there words in other languages that have similar meanings?

One I can think of is the Welsh/Wenglish word cwtsh/cwtch [kʊtʃ], which means a hug, cuddle, cubbyhole or little corner. It comes from the Middle English couche [ˈkuːtʃ(ə)] (bed), from the Old French couche (bed, lair), from couch(i)er (to lay down, place; go to bed, put to bed), from the Latin collocō (I place, put, settle) [source].

Jealous Envy

What is the difference between envy and jealousy?

A friend asked me this, so I thought I’d write a post about it.

Jealous!

Envy means:

  • a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc
  • to regard (a person or thing) with envy [source]

In the past it meant:

  • hatred, enmity, ill-feeling
  • emulation; rivalry
  • public odium; ill repute.
  • to have envious feelings
  • to give (something) to (someone) grudgingly or reluctantly, to begrudge
  • to show malice or ill will, to rail
  • to do harm in, to injure, to disparage
  • to hate
  • to emulate

It comes from the Middle English envie (ill-will, hatred, enmity, spite, malice, envy, harm, eagerness), from the Old French envie, from the Latin invidia (envy, grudge, jealousy, prejudice, spite, odium), from invidus (envious, hostile, inimical), from invideō (I look askance or maliciously at, cast an evil eye upon), from in- (on, upon, after) and videō (see, observe, understand) [source].

Jealousy means:

  • jealous resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself
  • mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims
  • vigilance in maintaining or guarding something.
  • a jealous feeling, disposition, state, or mood [source]

In the past it meant “A close concern for someone or something, solicitude, vigilance.” [source]

It comes from the Middle English jalousie (jealousness in a relationship, passion, desire, zealousness, devotion, belief), from the Old French jalousie, from jalous (eager, zealous, jealous), from the Late Latin zēlōsus (jealous, zealous), from the Latin zēlus (zeal, emulation, jealousy), from the Ancient Greek ζῆλος (zêlos – eager rivalry, zealous imitation, emulation, a noble passion) [source].

Other words from the same Ancient Greek root include zeal (diligent enthusiasm; powerful interest) and zealous (full of zeal; ardent, fervent; exhibiting enthusiasm or strong passion) [source].

Essuie-tout

Essuie-tout [e.sɥi.tu] is what you might call paper towels in French. It literally means “wipe-all”, and comes from essuyer (to wipe, wipe down, soak up) and tout (whole, entirely, total, all) [source].

kitchen roll

Essuyer comes from the Old French essuier (to wipe), from the Latin exsūcāre from exsūcō (I juice, I dry), from ex- (out, away) and sūcus (juice, moisture) [source].

Such towels are also known as sopalin [sɔ.pa.lɛ̃] in French, which is a genericized trademark that was first registered in 1948 by the Société du papier linge (Linen Paper Company) and comes from the first syllables of the company name [source].

In English they are also known as kitchen towels, kitchen roll or kitchen paper. There may be other names for them as well. What do you call them?

Essuie also appears in essuie-glace (windscreen wiper), and essuie-mains (hand towel). Related words include; essuyer (to wipe, rub away, swab, suffer, experience), s’essuyer (to dry o.s.), ressuyer (to dry, dry out) [source].

You can essuyer une défaite (suffer a defeat), essuyer une rebuffade (suffer a rebuff), essuyer le feu (come under a fire), essuyer un refus (get a refusal), essuyer un revers (suffer a setback) or even essuyer la vaisselle (dry the dishes) [source].

Wurbling Wurblers

Wurble is a wonderful word that I learnt today. What do you think it means?

  1. to warble words in a waffly kind of way
  2. to wriggle like a worm
  3. to talk or sing with water in your mouth

Annelid
A wurble wurbling

Wurble [wʌrbl] is a Scots words that means:

1. To move forward in a twisting, sinuous manner like a worm, to wriggle, crawl; to walk with a knock-kneed gait.
2. To work hard, esp. on some finicky tedious job, to strive, struggle, contend with difficulties.
3. To join two threads by twisting and rubbing the ends together; to patch up a quarrel [source].

Wurble is also written warble or wirble. Related words are wurbler (worm), and wurdle, which means “to work hard with little prospect of success” [source]. As far as I know, the word game, Wordle has no connection to wurdle or wurble.

The English word warble [ˈwɔɹbl̩ / ˈwɔːbl̩] is not related to wurdle or wurble. It means to sing like a bird, to cause to quaver or vibrate, to modulate a tone’s frequency, to be modulated or to be uttered melodiously [source].

Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus scirpaceus

Warble comes from the Old North French werbler (to sing with trills and quavers, from the Frankish *werbilon, possibly from the Proto-Germanic *hwirbilaz (circle, ring, whirl) [source].

Distreetly Discrete

The words discrete and discreet are both pronounced in the same way – [dɪsˈkɹiːt] – but have different meanings, or in other words, are homophones. Until yesterday, I didn’t realise that they were discrete words.

Discretely Discreet

discrete means

1. apart or detached from others; separate; distinct
2. consisting of or characterized by distinct or individual parts; discontinuous. [source]

It also has specific meanings in mathematics that I won’t go into here.

discreet means

1. judicious in one’s conduct or speech, especially with regard to respecting privacy or maintaining silence about something of a delicate nature; prudent; circumspect.
2. showing prudence and circumspection; decorous
3. modestly unobtrusive; unostentatious [source]

discrete comes from the Old French discret (different), from the Latin discrētus (separate, differentiated), from discernō (I separate, set apart, divide, part), from dis- (asunder, in pieces, apart, in two) and cernō (I distinguish, divide, separate), from the Proto-Italic *krinō, from the Proto-Indo-European *krey- (to sieve) [source].

discreet comes from the same source, via the Middle English word discrete, which meant wise, morally discerning, prudent, polite, and also separate or distinct [source]. The two words separated during the Middle English period and acquired discrete meanings [source].

The word discern (to detect with the senses, perceive, distinguish) comes from the same roots [source].

Indiscrete and indiscreet are also discrete words. The former means not divided into discrete parts, while the latter means lacking prudence, revealing secrets, or tactless [source].

They both come from the Latin indiscretus (unseparated, undivided, indistinguisable), from in- (un-, non-, not) and discrētus (see above) [source].

So let’s not be indiscreet about discreetly keeping these words discrete.

Together Living

A Dutch word I learnt recently is samenleving [‘samənlevɪŋ], which means society or community. It comes from samenleven (to live together, co-exist), from samen (together) and leven (to live), and could be literally translated as “together-living” [source].

Wonder All Around

Some related words include:

  • anderhalvemetersamenleving = ‘one and a half meter society’, in which (almost) everyone keeps a distance of one and a half meters where possible to prevent the spread of an infectious disease (especially Covid-19)’ [source]
  • wegwerpsamenleving = ‘throw away society’, in which using things once then throwing them away is normal [source]

The English word society comes from the Middle French societé (society), from the Old French societé (association, council, group, society, club), from the Latin societās (fellowship, association, alliance, union, community), from socius (associated, allied, partner, companion, ally), from the Proto-Indo-European *sokʷ-yo- (companion), from *sekʷ- (to follow) [source].

English words from the same PIE root include associate, consequence, obsequious, persue and sequel [source].

The English word community comes from the Old French comunité (community), from the Latin commūnitās (community; public spirit), from commūnis (common, ordinary, universal, public, democratic) [source].

In Old English a community was a gemænscipe [ˈjeˌmæːnˌʃi.pe], which is cognate with the Dutch word gemeenschap (community, society, fellowship) and the German word Gemeinschaft (community, group, company, sense of community). These come from the Proto-West Germanic *gamainiskapi (community), from *gamainī (common, shared, communal) and *-skapi (forms nouns denoting state) [source].

Stellar Stars

Stars

Here’s an interesting question that I was sent to me by email:
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I am curious as to why some of the languages that developed from Latin had to put an extra ‘e’ at the start of some of their words.

Here are some examples:

Latin Italian French Spanish English
stēlla stella étoile estrella star
status stato état estado state
spero speranza espère esperanza hope
spōnsa sposa épouse esposa wife

It looks as if the Gauls, and the people living in the Iberian peninsula, couldn’t cope with the st- and sp- beginnings, and had to stick an ‘e’ on the front. Is this because words in the Celtic languages they spoke didn’t have such beginnings? I can’t find any similar words in modern Welsh.
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Incidentally, the words for hope have a cognate in English – esperance, which is a old word for hope or expectation [source], and the ones for wife have a cognate in spouse (husband, wife).

Let’s look at the origins of some of these words to see how they have changed over time.

The Latin word stēlla (star), comes from the Proto-Italic *stērolā (star), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂stḗr (star). This became estoile/esteile/estelle in Old French, and estoile in Middle French. It was (e)strela in Old Portuguese and estrella in Old Spanish So the extra e has been there for a while [source].

In Proto-Celtic the word for star was *sterā, from the same PIE root as the Latin stēlla. This became *ster in Proto-Brythonic, Old Breton and Old Cornish, and ster in modern Breton and Cornish. So at least some speakers of Celtic languages could cope with the initial st-. In Old Welsh it was *ser, in Middle Welsh it was ser / syr, and in modern Welsh it’s sêr. It was also borrowed into Old Irish as ser [source].

The Latin word status means state, status, condition, position, place or rank. It became estat in Old French, from which we get the English word estate. Meanwhile in Old Spanish it was (e)strela, and in Old Portuguese it was estado [source].

It was borrowed into Old Irish as stad (stop, stay, delay), which is the same in modern Irish [source]. Proto-Brythonic borrowed it as *ɨstad from the Vulgar Latin *istatus, this became (y)stad / (y)stât in Middle Welsh and ystad (state, condition, situation) in modern Welsh [source].

Do any of you have any thoughts on this question?

Lillilu

This week I wrote a new song – a lullaby inspired by learning that a Scots word for lullaby is lillilu. This is also written lilly-loo or lilli-lu, and an extended version is lillila-baloo [source].

baby sleep

Here’s a recording of the song:

This got me wondering about whether there are interesting words meaning lullaby in other languages. Here are some I found:

  • French: berceuse – from bercer (to craddle, rock), from the Old French bercier (to rock), from Vulgar Latin *bertiāre, from Gaulish, from Proto-Celtic *berta- (to shake)
  • Irish: suantraí – from suan (sleep) and -traí (type of music)
  • Italian: ninnananna (onomatopoetic)
  • Portuguese: canção de ninar (sleep song) – ninar = to sing to sleep, canção de embalar (rocking song)
  • Spanish: canción de cuna (cradle song), nana (lullaby, wet nurse, nursemaid), arrurrú – from arrullo (cooing, murmur, lullaby)
  • Welsh: hun-gân (sleep song), (si-)lwli (onomatopoetic), su(o)-gân (lulling song), hwian-gân (murmur song)

Do you know of any other interesting ones?

What the Deuce‽

The expression “What the deuce‽” can be used to express surprise, shock or bafflement. It’s an example of a minced oath in which deuce is used in place of devil [source].

If you run like the deuce, you are running very quickly and wildly, or like the devil, or maybe like you’re being pursued by the devil.

Apparently deuce was first used in the 17th century exclamations and was associated with bad luck or mischief, because when playing dice, deuce (two) is the lowest and most unlucky throw. The connection with the devil developed later [source].

306

Deuce also appears in the phrase there will be the deuce to pay (there will be a huge amount of trouble).

In card games deuce refers to a card with two pips. In baseball a deuce is a curveball. In tennis it refers to a tied game where either player can win by scoring two consecutive points, and in Canadian slang it refers to a two-year prison sentence.

It comes from the Middle English dewes (two), via Anglo-Norman from the Old French deus (two), from the Latin duo, from the Proto-Italic *duō (two), from the Proto-Indo-European *dwóh₁ (two) [source].

Deuce might also be linked to or come from the Late Latin dusius (phantom, specter), which comes from the Gaulish *dusios (incubus, monster), probably from Proto-Indo-European *dʰeus- (spirit) [source].

Alternatively it might be linked to the Old French deus (God), from the Latin deus (god, deity), from the Old Latin deivos, from the Proto-Italic *deiwos, from Proto-Indo-European *deywós, from *dyew- (sky, heaven) [source].

Other Anglo-Norman numbers that are/were used in cards, dice and other games include ace (one), trey (three), cater (four), cinque (five), sice (six) [source].