Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gunshy

This does not rhyme with sc√ľncie. It is not gushy with a typo.

Often it is hyphenated.

You might know it from a 10,000 Maniacs song. That one is two worded. The gunshy I have in mind has nothing to do with soldiers.

Sporting dogs are sometimes gunshy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Quiddity

John Kern, a playwright I spoke with tonight--we ushered at The Gingerbread House (which I recommend)--was describing a play he wrote, about teenage clones. He said the play addressed this idea of people's quiddity.

"Wait--liquidity?" I said.

"No," he said. "Quiddity. It's an Old English word. It means essence."

Personally, I think its looks are only so-so but to hear it is nice, and it lies so close to liquidity and yet so far. It's not uninteresting to consider people's liquidity, given how much of the human body is water.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stemmy

From Deborah Madison's recipe for nettle soup on Culinate's site and originally from the book Local Flavors:

(If the nettles were stemmy, pass the soup through a food mill.)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Irey

This word does not appear in The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (in the vicinity of irate and ire, which is how I was thinking about it). I thought I made it up.

When I looked for it in my Compact Edition OED, I found iredy, an obsolete word that means ready, prepared, viz., c1300 Beket 766 Iredi ich am the deth to afonge.

Online it's a different story (because of course I don't have all 20 volumes of this dictionary). There it was. And it turns out, it is quite a ways from ire and irate.


Irey (with variant spelling irie) means: Great, fine, all right; pleasing to the senses; powerful.

1978 Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica) 16 July 23/9 Horace wasn't prepared to leave his wife for Ruby, but...the idea of another woman on the side was both irey and roots.