Tuesday, February 14, 2012
A frosty reception
I bring this up because on TV not long ago, a weather person used the correct meteorological term to describe this grayish-white etc to the news person and the news person about flipped out. Because, that frozen stuff is known to dictionary readers as "hoarfrost."
I'll tell you another perfectly good English word that just does not get used because it would make people giggle if it did, and that's "hoary." Dickens used that word a lot, and it was only a couple of centuries old when he did. It started in the 1510's, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (best not to argue with that) and it descends from the Old English word "har" meaning "gray, venerable, old" and so we came to use "hoary" for something old and "hoarfrost" for that frozen junk on the windshield of the Biscayne that is grey, like the beard or hair of an old man. Still, middle schoolers, I cannot recommend that you point out to your elders that they certainly do "look hoary" today. I can tell you from sad experience, people won't get it.
an Old World bitter perennial mint (Marrubium vulgare) used for making cough drops and me chortle.
So now, we're finished with the snickering over words, as long as I don't have to go to a doctor and be told there's something wrong with my coccyx.