Words Again

Yeah, I know, I’m at it again. Words continue to fascinate me. And here are some more:

Nug: A mysterious word with several possible meanings—a piece of marijuana or a super cute person that everyone just wants to cuddle and love being the most cited. The Century Dictionary says it means a rude unshaped piece of timber; a block; a knob or protuberance; in mining, the dull sound caused by the breaking of subsiding strata. The word’s etymology remains a mystery. The best guess is that it derives from the word nugget.

Cripe: Merriam-Webster defines the word as “a mild oath” and says that in the plural, cripes, it’s euphemism for “Christ.”

Gobsmack: Chiefly British slang, it means to overwhelm with wonder, surprise, or shock; to astound. It derives from putting together “gob,” meaning mouth, and “smack,” meaning to strike or slap.

Glum: frowning, sad, sullen, moody. It derives from the Middle English verb gloumen, which means to look glum or sullen; look displeased; scowl, frown.

Gut: As a noun, the word means bowels or entrails; in the plural, “guts,” it means strength or force of character it. As a verb, it means to eviscerate or totally destroy. It derives from the Old English guttas (plural) meaning bowels, entrails. Its meaning in the singular was a channel.

Ahem: a throat-clearing sound used to attract attention. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word results from seventeenth century word hem, which is imitative of clearing one’s throat (as if about to speak).

Rig: The word has a variety of meanings, all derived from different sources. So I’ll be selective. As a transitive verb, derived from the Middle English ridden, it means to fit out or provide with needed tackle, clothing, or gear; or to put in working order. As a noun, it most commonly means equipage or dress. But other derivations have other meanings. The full etymology, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, is complex: the word has existed in its present form since the late fifteenth century, originally nautical, meaning “to fit (a ship) with necessary tackle, make (a ship) ready for sea.” The word of is obscure origin, probably from a Scandinavian source (compare Danish, Norwegian rigge “to equip,” Swedish rigga “to rig, harness”)—though these words may be from English. The word is perhaps ultimately from Proto-Indo-European reig-, “to bind.”  

Gander: The word has two meanings: a male goose or a look or glance. It’s origin in its first meaning, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, is the Old English gandra, “male goose,” from Proto-Germanic gan(d)ron (source also of Dutch gander, Middle Low German ganre). The origin of the second meaning is slang from 1886. It derives from the idea of craning one’s neck like a goose. An earlier meaning for the word, from the 1680s, was “to wander foolishly.”

More next time.

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