1) The Scots Language Centre has a “Word of the week” feature that’s wonderful if you like dipping your toe into that fragrant branch of West Germanic as much as I do. The latest is on Glasgow rhyming slang; sometimes you can hear the word said by a native speaker, as with this one on quine ‘lass, girl.’

2) Did you know there’s a new all-electronic Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged? I’ve already added it to the “Language resources” section of the sidebar, and I’m very excited about it (as I was back in 2011 when I first learned it was coming). You can read all about it, and take a guided tour, at their blog [2023: dead, and not available from Internet Archive]. Frankly, I never thought I’d live to see a new edition of this great dictionary (see this post on the unfairly maligned Third).

Update. Bah, I just went there and it turns out you now have to sign up for a “fourteen-day free trial.” I guess free use was too good to be true. I’m taking it off the sidebar.

Bulletin. There is a blizzard warning for today and tomorrow in this part of the world; schools are closed, everything’s battened down, we’re supposed to get a couple feet of snow at least. We’ve got a wood stove and plenty of food, and I’ve recharged my Kindle, so we’ll be fine, but in case the power goes out I wanted to alert concerned denizens of the Hattery that I may be offline for some time, unable to post, comment, or zap spam. If such should be the case, talk amongst yourselves and think of the Hat family (including cats) warming itself before a blazing fire.


  1. What you link to seems to me just another presentation of NID3, which has long been available to the public via the back door (details on request). I don’t think this can be the NID4 that you talked about two years ago, unless they are releasing before revising. Still, it’s nice to have it open and in the clear, at least for now: one never knows what will disappear behind a paywall tomorrow.

  2. marie-lucie says

    Scots quine ‘lass, girl’
    Is this word cognate with quean, which was lost in English because it was homophonous with queen?

  3. m-l: Yes indeed. See the Dictionary of the Scots Language s.v. quen(e), of which it is a variant.
    But queen and quean are specialized spellings of the same word at different levels of meaning, not mere homophones. Indeed, the term for effeminate men is spelled queen but probably derives from quean.

  4. marie-lucie says

    Thanks JC. I remember reading about cats: breeding females are called queen cats. I think it is quite likely that it used to be quean not queen.

  5. I don’t think this can be the NID4 that you talked about two years ago, unless they are releasing before revising.
    They’re revising as they go, as with the OED; at least, that’s what I gather from the blog.

  6. Read about your coming storm over at EarthSky. It’s actually a combination of two, an Alberta Clipper and another from the Gulf. Potentially not nice; it’s being compared to the one of ’78. So, have a happy homey hunkering down.

  7. Bill Walderman says

    Is “quine”, like “queen”, a word with a PIE etymology, cognate with Greek “gyne” and Russian “zhena”?

  8. marie-lucie says

    That’s the idea. I knew about “queen” and “quean” but had never heard of “quine” before.

  9. Watching the webcam on Route 9, near Valley Veterinary, facing West, going into Hadley. Looks quite driveable for the moment, but will monitor it to see how the blizzard develops !

  10. David Eddyshaw says

    It’s all true; “quine” is actually in use, unlike some alleged Scotticisms which I have never encountered in the real world.
    My daughter, born in Aberdeen, has ever been a daft wee quine.
    I wonder if the Scots use in fact is rather due to Norse influence, given that OE cwen seems to have got specialised pretty early to its current hifalutin’ meaning in England (by Chaucer’s time, anyway.) It wouldn’t be the only such case: there’s “dream”, “bread”, also with Norse meanings rather than Old English, despite being straightforward reflexes of OE phonologically.

  11. David Eddyshaw says

    To complicate the matter further, I think there are two distinct OE words involved, cwene, going with Gothic qino and Old Norse kona, and cwe:n going with Gothic qe:ns or qi:ns. I don’t know nearly enough about Old English to know how early one (or both) got to mean “king’s wife” as opposed to (any old) wife, but I am confident that there are LH readers who do …

  12. Jeffry House says

    “Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
    Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
    Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
    Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,
    And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
    The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
    Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
    Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
    In a tumultuous privacy of Storm.”
    RALPH WALDO EMERSON, The Snow Storm.

  13. marie-lucie says

    DE: wife used to mean simply ‘woman’: man and wife as in the marriage ritual meant ‘man and woman’ (and the word “woman” comes from OE wi:f-man, literally woman-person). Perhaps the difference with the ancestor of queen was one of status.

  14. Jeffry: I was just reading that poem to my wife a couple of hours ago! I also read selections from Whittier’s “Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl“; how well I remember those opening lines from my childhood:
    The sun that brief December day
    Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
    And, darkly circled, gave at noon
    A sadder light than waning moon.

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