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I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant..." Quote from a counted cross-stitch picture given to my father.

Definitions is a recurring post in which I delve into the meanings of words that are obscure, interesting, or new to me.

Recently I read The Candlemass Road by George MacDonald Fraser. This delightful historical novel takes place during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I on the Scottish/English border, during a time of much raiding and violence being committed by both sides. It took me a several pages to get into the flow of reading it as it is written in first person, using the language and sentence structure of the time.

Needless to say I was introduced to some interesting words from the period. Many of these words are Scottish and have more than one meaning. You can investigate them further at Dictionary of the Scots Language. Others are English.

brangling: a heated argument. They were brangling over who would pay for supper.
chirugeon/chirugeor: surgeon. I can't imagine a chirugeon in the late 16th century operating on me!
cingle: girdle. She wore a right pretty cingle about her waist.
clart/clarting: smearing with mud, dirtying. The horses were clarted with mud after the long wet ride.
devoir: to do one's duty or one's best. He did his devoir towards wife and family.
hempen: made of hemp. He was hung for his crimes with a hempen rope.
ingle: a hearth fire. "Go and light the ingle, it's cold in here."
jordan: chamber pot, no further need to explain
malapert: an impudent or saucy person. She was a right malapert, she was, tossing her head at me in defiance.
oxter: the armpit or to be carried under one's arm. She carried the wee babe in her oxter.
pintle: penis....sounds so like the object named!
shent: put to shame, confounded, ruined. I was shent of my wounds that would take long to heal.
skelp: a smack, blow or slap. He laid such a skelp on my head I was dizzy for hours. 
snell:  quick, acute, piercing, keen, grievous, severe. A snell wind blew through the trees.
strappado: torture in which the victim's arms are dislocated by hoisting and dropping. OUCH1
swither:  to hesitate or be undecided. She was all in a swither about which dress to wear.

These are just a few of the ones that struck my fancy. I'm particularly fond of brangling and swither. So descriptive. Are there any you might use in your writing?


  1. I like malapert! I know several people who fit that description.

  2. I like brangling -- it sounds exactly what it means. Fun to read HF, but I admit it can take some time to get into the flow of it all.

  3. Oh I love some of those words... But I guess they'd be out of place in a YA contemporary

  4. Oh I love some of those words... But I guess they'd be out of place in a YA contemporary

  5. I like swither, too. Reminds me of dither - another favorite of mine.

  6. I'm glad my name isn't Jordan, LoL. I like brangling and swither, too. And snell is a fun one. I love being a word nerd!!

  7. Those are awesome words! I have to copy them down!

  8. I'd only heard three of those before. I love malapert, it fits its definition perfectly :-)

  9. How cool. Chirugeon I knew, and hempen is just so logical. Like you, I'm very drawn to brangling and swither.

  10. Interesting words! I'm in pain over that torture method. 'strappado'
    It struck me that dither is similar to swither.


Your Random Thoughts are most welcome!