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].

Short Shrift

The other day I heard the expression short shrift being used, and started wondering what a shrift might be, and why it’s a short one that’s usually given or received.

The expression to give short shrift means to ignore, disregard or exclude (sb/sth); to give (sb/sth) very little time or attention. For example “Despite its urgency, ministers are giving the issue short shrift in parliament.” [source].

The word shrift means the act of going to or hearing a religious confession; a confession to a priest, or forgiveness given by a priest after confession. It comes from the Middle English shrift (confession, penitence, repentance), from the Old English sċrift (penance, penalty, a judge), from sċrīfan (to prescribe absolution or penance; to pass judgment), from the Proto-Germanic *skrībaną (to write), from the Latin scrībō (I write), from the Proto-Indo-European *(s)kreybʰ- (to scratch, tear) [source].

confessions

Short shrift is a rushed sacrament of confession given to a prisoner who is to be executed very soon; a speedy execution, usually without any proper determination of guilt; a short interval of relief or time, or something dealt with or overcome quickly and without difficulty [source].

The word shrive (to hear or receive a confession; to prescribe penance or absolution) comes from the same roots [source]. So does shrove, an old word that means to join the fesitivities of Shrovetide or to make merry. It appears in the name Shrove Tuesday, the day before the beginning of Lent, also known as Pancake Day, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday [source] or Jif Lemon Day [source]. Other names are probably available.

So now we know.

Myriads

The word myriad [ˈmɪɹi.æd/ˈmɪɹi.əd] means a countless number or multitude, and in the past it meant 10,000. It comes from the French myriade (myriad, 10,000), from the Latin Latin myrias (10,000), from the Ancient Greek μυριάς (muriás – countless, 10,000), from μῡρῐ́ος (mūríos – numberless, countless, infinite) [source].

Peering through the dust
A myriad of stars

The use of 10,000 to mean countless or infinite happens in other languages as well. For example in Chinese 万 [萬] (wàn) means 10,000 or a great number [source]. The same character (man) in Japanese means 10,000, a myriad, everything, all or various. When pronounced ban it means completely, absolutely or totally [source].

Do other languages do something similar?

Other English words that refer to a large but unspecified number include um(p)teen or umpty, which come from umpty (a colloquial name for a dash in Morse Code used as World War I army slang) and -teen [source].

Also zillion, gazillion, bazillion, jillion, bajillion and squillion [source].

Do you have any others?

Tidy!

The Dutch word ruimen [ˈrœy̯mə(n)] means to clean up, to clear or to remove. It comes from the Middle Dutch rumen, from the Old Dutch *rūmen, from the Proto-Germanic *rūmijaną (to make room, to clear), from *rūmaz (roomy, spacious, open) and *-janą (a suffix that makes adjectives) [source].

De mannen die onze rommel opruimen

Words from the same roots include ream (to enlarge a hole), and rim in English; arrimer (to stow, secure) in French; räumen (to vacate, move out of, clear, shift) in German; and rymma (to hold, escape, flee, evacuate) in Swedish [source].

When ruimen is combined with suffixes, the meaning changes somewhat:

  • afruimen = to clean up, to pick up, to clear (a table), clearing
  • inruimen = to put away, to fit in, to accept, to load (a dishwasher)
  • leegruimen = to clean out, clearing out
  • ontruimen = to clear, to evacuate, to vacate
  • opruimen = to clean up, to clear, to tidy up
  • puinruimen = to clear the debris, rubble
  • uitruimen = to clean out, to clear out, to unload, unloading
  • verruimen = to boarden, to expland, to extend
  • wegruimen = to get rid of, clearing away, disposal

Related words include ruim [rœy̯m], which means spacious, roomy, large, ample, generous; more than, over, and also the cargo hold (of a ship) or a wide, open space; and ruimte, which means a space, room or area, and also (outer) space. A spaceship is a ruimteschip or ruimtevaartuig (“space faring thing”), and an astronaut is a ruimtevaarder (“space farer”), who might go on a ruimtewandeling (spacewalk) [source].

I’m good a tidying up (opruimen) and putting things away (inruimen), but not so good at getting rid of things (wegruimen). I tend to accumulate a lot of things, thinking they might come in handy one day. Occasionally I clear out the cupboards, drawers, sleeves and other places where such things tend to end up.

How tidy are you?

By the way, tidy is cognate with the Dutch word tijdig (timely, in/on time), and used to mean in good time or timely in English. The Dutch for tidy is netjes [source].

In Wenglish (Welsh English), tidy! as an exclamation means fine or splendid, a tidy spell is quite a long time, a tidy few is quite a number, a tidy feller is a decent chap, probably ‘good with his hands’, a tidy swill is a wash involving at least the face and hands, and talk tidy! means speak properly! [source].

Some details provided by Anna Rutten

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].

Sake

Words for fish and other seafood seem to pop up quite often in the Japanese lessons on Duolingo. One such word is (sake), which means salmon, specifically chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta), a species of salmon that lives in the North Pacific and the Beringian Arctic. It is also known as the dog salmon, Siberian salmon, keta salmon, or silverbrite salmon in North America [source].

chum salmon leaping

The word (sake), which is also written , サケ or さけ, comes from the Ainu word サㇰイベ (sak ibe – salmon), which literally means “summer eat”, as salmon as usually caught and eaten in the summer [source].

The chum of chum salmon comes from the Chinook Jargon word tzum (spotted, marked). The keta of keta salmon / Oncorhynchus keta comes from the Russian word кета (keta – chum/Siberian salmon), from the Nanai word кета (keta – fish) [source].

[sáꜜkè] should not be confused with [sàké] (alcohol, sake). In the former the first syllable has a high pitch and the second a low pitch, while in the latter, the first syllable has low pitch and the second a high pitch [source].

Other Japanese words borrowed from Ainu include [source]:

  • コタン / 古潭 (kotan) = village
  • トナカイ / 馴鹿 (tonakai) = reindeer
  • ラッコ / 海獺 (rakko) = sea otter
  • ルイベ (ruibe) = salmon, saffron cod, etc. cut into thin slices while frozen

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Fangled

Things can be newfangled, but can they be oldfangled or just fangled?

fangled

Newfangled is used, often in derogatory, disapproving or humourous way, to refer to something that is new and often needlessly novel or gratuitously different. It may also refer to something that is recently devised or fashionable, especially when it’s not an improvement on existing things. It can also mean fond of novelty [source].

The word newfangle also exisits, although it’s obsolete. As a verb it means ‘to change by introducting novelties’, and as an adjective to means ‘eager for novelties’ or ‘desirous of changing’ [source]. It comes from the Middle English word neue-fangel, which meant fond of novelty, enamored of new love, inconstant, fickle, recent or fresh [source].

Things that are old-fashioned, antiquated, obsolete or unfashionable can be said to be oldfangled [source]. Things can also be fangled, that is, new-made, gaudy, showy or vainly decorated. Something that is fangled could be said to have fangleness [source].

The word fangle also exists, although it is no longer used, except possibly in some English dialects. It is a backformation from newfangled. As a verb it means to fashion, manufacture, invent, create, trim showily, entangle, hang about, waste time or to trifle. As a noun it means a prop, a new thing, something newly fashioned, a novelty, a new fancy, a foolish innovation, a gewgew, a trifling ornament, a conceit or a whim.

Fangle comes from the Middle English fangelen, from fangel (inclined to take), from the Old English *fangol/*fangel (inclinded to take), from fōn (to catch, caputure, seize, take (over), conquer) from the Proto-West Germanic *fą̄han (to take, seize), from the Proto-Germanic *fanhaną (to take, seize, capture, catch) [source].

Words from the same roots include fang (a long, pointed canine tooth used for biting and tearing flesh) in English, vangen (to catch) in Dutch, fangen (to catch, capture) in German, and (to get, receive, be allowed to) in Swedish [source].

Wanderwörter

A Wanderwort is term used in linguistics to refer to a word that has spread to many different languages, often via trade. It was borrowed from German and comes from wandern (to wander) and Wort (word), so it’s a “wandering word”. The plural is Wanderwörter, Wanderworte or Wanderworts [source]. The origins of some such words goes back to ancient trade routes from the Bronze Age, and it can be difficult to trace which language they ultimately came from. Examples include copper, silver, mint and wine [source].

Wanderwörter

Another example of a Wanderwort is:

tea, which comes from the Dutch thee (tea), from (tê – tea) in the Amoy dialect of Southern Min (Min Nan), from the Old Chinese *l’aː (bitter plant), from the Proto-Sino-Tibetan *s-la (leaf, tea) [source].

There are similar words for tea in many other languages, including ᑎᕀ (tiy) in Cree, tae in Irish, in Maori and టీ (ṭī) in Telugu. These words arrived in Europe and elsewhere thanks to the Dutch East India Company, who brought tea by sea from Amoy [source].

The word chai which in English is short for masala chai, refers to a beverage made with black teas, steamed milk and sweet spices, based loosely on Indian recipes. It comes from from the Hindi-Urdu चाय / چائے‎ (cāy – tea), from the Persian چای‎ (čây – tea), from the Chinese (chá – tea) [source].

Languages that got their tea overland generally have a word for tea like chai or cha, including цай / ᠴᠠᠢ (tsay – tea) in Mongolian, चाय (cāy – tea) in Hindi, чай (čaj – tea) in Russian, ชา (chaa – tea) in Thai, and ca (tea) in Malay [source].

Sleep like a …

If you have slept well, you might say that you have slept like a baby, like a log, like a rock, like a top or like a lamb. Apparently in Chaucer’s time you might have said that you had slept like a swine, or whatever that was in Middle English [source].

Curled up sleeping cat

If you search for “sleeping” on Flickr, as I just did, you mainly get photos of sleeping cats and sleeping babys, so maybe you could also say that you slept like a cat. The cat in the photo above is my sister’s cat Fletcher, by the way.

In Welsh you might sleep like a hog / wild boar (cysgu fel twrch), or like a hedge (fel clawdd), like a sow (fel hwch), like a pig (fel mochyn), like a small rope/cord (fel cordyn), like a nail (fel hoelen), like a stone (fel carreg) or like a mole (fel gwadd) [source].

In Scottish Gaelic you could say bha cadal nam maigheach orm (I slept like a hare), and cadal nam maigheach ort!, or literally “sleep of the hare on you”, is how you say “sweet dreams, sleep tight!” or something similar [source].

In French you might sleep like a dormouse (dormir comme un loir), like a marmot (comme une marmotte), like a stump (comme une soche), like a baby (comme un bébé) or with closed fists (à poings fermés) [source].

What about in other languages?