fimmtudagur, október 12, 2006


These words today:

dross - n. slag or scoria, the impurities forced out of metals during melting; from noble Anglo-Saxon words for dregs and for falling. For some reason I always want to confuse it with treacle, which makes no sense at all. Though AS dreosan, fall, must share ancestry with Danish drysse, sprinkle, which I always see in the context of sugar. Maybe that is it. It has nothing whatever to do with Greek drosos, dew or liquid, from which we get the dew-loving fruit fly, drosophilia.

tor - n. a high, rocky hill; from the Anglo-Saxon torr, a tower or rock. Almost surprisingly, it has nothing to do with Þórr (could not -- we cannot get an English t in the place of an Icelandic þ). Þórr has his hammer, hamarr, which is also a towering rocky ridge. Would it be too much to have expected Þórr's name to give us a mountain-word? Will have to content ourselves with Storm King, that eminence towering over the Hudson.

full - v. to clean and shrink esp. with moisture, used of cloth; from Middle English, from Old French, from a hypothetical late Latin root. A pleasantly surprising word for not being any part of to fill, even though it could also draw a cloth of a sack taut.

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