Words, Words, Words (Again)

As regular readers of this blog already know, I am a writer and always fascinated by words. So over the years, I have dedicated a series of blog posts to words that intrigue me. Time to do it again.

I’ll start off with cooties. The comic strip “Red and Rover,” about a boy and his dog, is currently running a series in which “girl cooties” is an important issue. Research on the word suggests that it might be derived from the Malay word kutu or from coot, a waterfowl supposedly known for being infested with parasites. A cootie is a body louse. But as Red in the cartoon points out, there are only girl cooties, no boy cooties.

Next: summarily. The word is an adverb formed from the noun “summary” which means a summing up or concise statement. The word is derived from the Latin summa, meaning sum or whole. “Summarily” denotes instantly, without any formalities. “Summarily executed” means killed immediately, without trial.

Then comes gird. The form and spelling of the word is essentially unchanged from its ancient form in old English and German. These days it means to prepare oneself for action. But it’s original meaning was to put on clothes.

That brings us to palate. It is derived from the Latin from the Latin “palatum,” meaning roof of the mouth, which is also the meaning of the modern word, palate.

And now, haggard. The word derives from the French “haggard” meaning wild. The word’s modern meaning is just that: wild or unruly. A second meaning is having a worn or emaciated appearance—gaunt.

Next: perfidy. The word is Latin-based, from “perfidus” meaning “treacherous.” That word is derived from “per”—to ill effect, and “fides” meaning faith. The word means being dishonest or disloyal.

That’s enough for now. More when the spirit moves me.

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