Words (Yet Again) (2)

Back to it—continuing my most recent delve into words.

I’ll start with awry. According to Oxford Languages, the word means away from the appropriate, planned, or expected course, amiss, wrong, not right, out of the normal or correct position, askew. In other words, when something is awry, it’s not the way it’s supposed to be. The word derives from the obsolete verb “wry”—to contort, to twist or turn.

Next, blither. Oxford Languages says the word means to talk in a long-winded way without making very much sense. The Online Etymology Dictionary says that the word is a variant of “blether,” a sixteenth century northern British and Scottish word meaning to talk nonsense. Another version of the same word is “blather” meaning to talk nonsense.

 Boycott: to join with others in refusing to have dealings with, and preventing or discouraging others from doing so, as punishment for political or other differences. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the term came into the language as a result of the Irish Land League ostracism of Captain Charles C. Boycott (1832-1897), land agent of Lough-Mask in County Mayo, who refused to lower rents for his tenant farmers. “Boycott” was quickly adopted by newspapers in languages as far afield as Japanese (boikotto). The family name comes from a placename in England.

Tomcat: a male cat. Here I quote the Online Etymology Dictionary verbatim: “Also tom-cat, 1809, from Tom + cat (n.); probably influenced by Tom the Cat in the popular children’s book ‘The Life and Adventures of a Cat’ (1760). It replaced earlier Gib-cat (see Gib), from the familiar shortening of Gilbert, though Tom was applied to male kittens c. 1300. The name also has been used of [sic] the males of other beasts and birds since at least 1791 (such as tom-turkey, by 1846). Also see Tibert. The verb meaning ‘to pursue women promiscuously for sexual gratification’ is recorded from 1927. Related: Tom-catting.”

Not very flattering for men like me named Tom.

Loony: crazy or foolish. Short for “lunatic,” but also influenced by “loon,” meaning a crazy person, and perhaps “loon,” the bird being noted for its wild cry and method of escaping from danger. “Lunatic” means a person affected with periodic insanity dependent on the changes of the moon. It derives from the Latin word luna, meaning moon. “Loon,” meaning a worthless person or boor, is of uncertain origin. It might be from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German. It is similar to the sixteenth century Dutch word loen, meaning stupid person.

More when the spirit moves me.

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