Ten Words.

Bathrobe sent me 10 Rare But Useful Words Everyone Should Know with the comment “This is really frothy but I love the words!” It is, but I love them too, so enjoy. The first two:

UHTCEARE: This highly useful word means ‘lying awake before dawn worrying’. It appears in the Anglo-Saxon poem ‘The Wife’s Lament’, and has recently become more widely known thanks to Mark Forsyth, who includes it in his book The Horologicon.

QUAKE-BUTTOCK: This is another term for a coward, and appears in the plays of seventeenth-century playwrights Beaumont and Fletcher. We reckon it should be revived.

Excellent stuff!

Comments

  1. January First-of-May says:

    That one Anglo-Saxon word is so clearly Anglo-Saxon that I’m not sure it can even be pronounced in modern English.

    Surely to start using it in modern English we need to first figure out the phonological development from Anglo-Saxon to modern English, or at least to Late Middle English (to figure out how it would have been spelled had it still been a word when the printers came in).

    I don’t actually know enough to even have a reasonable guess on what it would have been (not even after reading the Wikipedia descriptions), but surely some other people here are more knowledgeable in English historical phonology.

  2. the second part of the word still survives in one of the meanings of “care”:

    care: a feeling of worry or anxiety:

    She seemed weighed down by all her cares.

  3. January First-of-May says:

    So… looking at Wiktionary examples… oughtcare? Could well be something else entirely.

  4. Trond Engen says:

    No, uht must be the word for early morning known in Scandinavian as ON ótta, No. otte f., e.g. ottesang “matins”, stå opp i otta “rise in the wee hours”. I don’t have access to my books right now and can’t say much about origin and cognacy, but I think the resemblance with ON ótti, No. otte m. “fear, anxiety; (obs.) respect” is pure chance. Though the Anglo-Saxon word makes me wonder.

  5. Trond Engen says:

    LORTHEW: In the Middle Ages, the word ‘lorthew’ was another name for a teacher, but it’s the derivation which many teachers may find particularly apt. The word comes from two Old English words meaning ‘teacher’ and ‘slave’.

    Also without my books, but I don’t think this is precise enough in this context. I’d say ‘learning’ + ‘servant’, or even ‘education’ + ’employee’.

  6. So… looking at Wiktionary examples… oughtcare?

    Sounds good to me; I’ll start using it. “I wanted to sleep in, but oughtcare kicked in and I got up.”

  7. January First-of-May says:

    but I think the resemblance with ON ótti, No. otte m. “fear, anxiety; (obs.) respect” is pure chance

    Surprisingly, so is the (vague) resemblance with Russian utro “morning”, whose English cognate is apparently Easter.

    On the topic of oughtcare – the Middle English would have been *uhtcare or thereabouts, which probably would have resulted in the (Early) Modern English spelling **oughtcare because of English… um… what’s the spelling version of phonotactics?
    …Well, either that or **utcare, anyway. Depends on whether the /u/ was still long at that point.

    (Either way it would probably be pronounced “oot-care”.)

  8. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    That’s a word I’ve needed in the past couple of weeks as I’ve had a lot of oughtcare provoked by the difficulty of closing my bank accounts in England and moving the money to France.

  9. Per the OED (sv ughten) the root survived until at least 1400. A modern “ought” spelling is certainly plausible:

    Forms: OE uhtan, ME uhhtenn, ME oughten, vȝten, vghtene.

    Etymology: Common Germanic: Old English úhtan, oblique form of *úhte weak feminine = Old Saxon ûhta (Middle Low German uchten, Low German ucht; Middle Dutch uchten, ochten, Dutch ucht-, ochtend), Old High German ûhtâ, uohtâ (Middle High German uohte, uhte), Gothic ūhtwō, Old Norse and Icelandic ótta (Norwegian and Swedish otta) in the same sense: relationship to forms outside of Germanic is uncertain. In Middle English, as in Middle Low German and Middle Dutch, the oblique case in which the word commonly occurred was adopted in place of the original nominative.(Show Less)
    Obsolete.

    The part of the night immediately before daybreak; early morning.
    971 Blickling Hom. 47 Syxtan siþe on niht ær he ræste, seofoþan siþe on uhtan.
    OE Beowulf 126 Ða wæs on uhtan mid ærdæge Grendles guðcræft gumum undyrne.
    c1000 Saxon Leechd. III. 20 Læt standan þreo niht; syle drincan ær uhton lytelne scænc fulne.
    ?c1200 Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 2484 Godess enngell comm himm to Onn uhhtenn þær he sleppte.
    a1300 K. Horn (Cambr.) 1474 Hi sloȝen & fuȝten, Þe niȝt & þe vȝten.
    a1300 K. Horn 1415 (Laud 108) He smyten and he fouten Þe nyȝt and eke þe ouȝten [v.rr. ohtoun, vȝten].
    13.. St. Erkenwolde 118 in Horstm. Altengl. Leg. (1881) 268 Ser Erkenwolde was vp in þe vghtene ere þene.
    c1400 (▸?c1380) Cleanness l. 893 Ruddon of þe day~rawe ros vpon vȝten, When merk of þe mydnyȝt moȝt no more last.
    c1400 Laud Troy Bk. 9406 Thretti dayes when he hadde foughten With-outen reste bothe euen & oughten.

  10. QUIDNUNC: A useful word for a gossip, or nosy person. It comes from the Latin for ‘what now?’

    Today whatnow would maybe sound more like a term for someone slow on the intake.

  11. Stress distinction.

  12. Vincent Daly says:

    Metanoia is reasonably common in Emglish-language Christian theological writing and has been for a hundred years. The Greek word is translated as repentance in most translations of the New Testament, but many theologians are not happy with that translation, saying that the Greek implies changing your heart, mind, and way of life, and so use the Greek term. It doesn’t mean “the process of changing your mind”.

  13. Stu Clayton says:

    It seems to me that it’s easier to change your mind than the mind of someone else. One reason for that could be that it’s easier to deceive oneself than to deceive someone else, you can talk yourself in and out of opinions without fear of serious resistance. That’s a downside of privileged access – you’re all alone in there, no one is pushing back hard.

    I find “metaphrenia” defined as “The mental state of turning away from family interests toward personal goals such as business”. And “change your mind” translated into modern Greek as “αλλάξετε γνώμη” (your grammar may vary).

  14. Trond Engen says:

    QUIDNUNC: A useful word for a gossip, or nosy person. It comes from the Latin for ‘what now?’

    J.Pystynen: Today whatnow would maybe sound more like a term for someone slow on the intake.

    A whatsapp? A whatsappyaguys?

  15. David Marjanović says:

    The Greek word is translated as repentance in most translations of the New Testament, but many theologians are not happy with that translation, saying that the Greek implies changing your heart, mind, and way of life, and so use the Greek term.

    I suppose that’s what’s rendered Umkehr in German, literally “turnaround”, but evidently extensible to this.

  16. Stu Clayton says:

    Umkehr in the Christian sense is an ecclesiastic word, ordinary folks say Bekehrung. To make a clean sweep. There are two kehren words, apparently unrelated, only one of which means “sweep (together)”, the other “turn”. Thus we need not fear “der jüngste Kéhricht“.

  17. Lars (the original one) says:

    Is the -kehr in Umkehr and Verkehr the same? I also know umgekehrt as ‘conversely’.

    I think μετάνοια in the Christian sense is closer to Danish vækkelse (roughly ‘awakening’ but specialized to spiritual experience, vækning being what you set your phone to do every morning).

    In Danish we also have omvendelse — a verbal noun from (transitive) omvende which is what missionaries do, the personal experience is at blive omvendt. It covers all religious conversion, and is an obvious calque of the Latin word. (Again, turning around in general is vende (sig) om; the use of a verbal noun for that is marginal, but if you did it would be omvending. Participial omvendt has both senses, however). It looks like Umkehr would belong here, but it’s specialized vocabulary so it is as it is.

  18. John Cowan says:

    Word dēþ swā hit byþ þonne hit mōt swā hit wile (not quite Durham Proverb 14).

  19. There’s a line in a German Christmas carol “…Und kehrt mit seinem Segen ein in jedes Haus…” (and turns in at each house with his blessings). My mother once said that as a small child she would sing und kehrt mit seinem Besen ein in jedes Haus (and sweeps in with his broom)… because the meaning “sweep” was the only one she knew.

  20. Trond Engen says:

    I presume it’s this word we have as kjære in the juridical terms påkjære v. “appeal (an administrative decision)” and kjæremål nn. “call for an appeal case”. Also, differently, in the undoubtedly ausdeutschgeriffene forkjært a. “(clearly) wrong, wrongheaded, in a dead end”.

  21. David Marjanović says:

    verkehrt “inverted, the wrong way around, in the wrong direction, bass-ackwards, wrongheaded”.

    ordinary folks say Bekehrung

    Oh no! Bekehrung is “conversion”, another purely religious word (outside of sarcastic metaphors).

    To make a clean sweep.

    I’ve always taken Bekehrung to be from the other kehren, so that bekehren would have originally meant “to turn someone around”.

    Is the -kehr in Umkehr and Verkehr the same?

    Yep. Verkehr = “traffic”.

    the meaning “sweep” was the only one she knew

    Einkehren basically means “to enter an inn” and makes no sense with the “sweep” meaning.

  22. Stu Clayton says:

    David: I wrote “Umkehr in the Christian sense is an ecclesiastic word, ordinary folks say Bekehrung“. Your “Oh no! Bekehrung is “conversion”, another purely religious word (outside of sarcastic metaphors)” confirms that, unless I misunderstand what “oh no!” means here.

    How often do you hear or read Umkehr in that sense, outside of kathpedia ?

    # Konversion (“Umkehr, Bekehrung”[1]) ist der Vorgang, in welchem ein Mensch seine Glaubensüberzeugung berichtigt, die Lebensweise ändert und wenn nötig die Aufnahme in eine Religionsgemeinschaft anstrebt. #

    Umkehr in der Bibel und im Katechismus

  23. In the usage of these words, Bekehrung and Umkehr have different meanings – only Bekehrung means “conversion” (= joining of / changing a religious / ideological community), Umkehr means abandoning a sinful lifestyle, without necessarily joining or changing a religious community.

  24. David Marjanović says:

    Interesting (if logical) that kathpedia equates the two; I had never seen that before.

  25. I just see that I somehow managed to delete some words from my post, what I thought I wrote was ” in the usage of these words that I know”

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