Thursday, May 29, 2008

old words

Word-a-day has featured archaic words this week. For example:

sweven (SWEV-uhn) noun
Dream; vision.

[From Old English swefn (sleep, dream, vision).]

-Anu Garg (words at

"[The queen] went in to the Sultan and assured him that their daughter had suffered during all her wedding-night from swevens and nightmare."
The Arabian Nights (translated by Richard Francis Burton); 1885.

Sweven. What a great word!

Others were scrannel, point-device, and garboil. "Thin, or unmelodious" - "completely/perfectly" - and "confusion/turmoil", respectively.

I like words. Scrannel. Now that's a word you can sink your teeth into.
I'm going to shake you by your scrannel little neck!
Although that's rather violent as a first thought. . . . Sorry. Let me try again.
The worst thing about running a fever was having to endure the scrannel broth my grandmother was convinced was called for as its cure.
Better? Maybe not.
The first tones of the young mockingbird are apt to be a bit scrannel, but they improve rapidly.

Thank God.
OK - so maybe it's a tough-ish word to start the day with. 'Sweven' is much better!
Away with your swevens of grandeur! They are naught but garboil. The dulcet tones of the mockingbird high over the forest meadow are heaven, point-device.
I'm sure an ancient would be just as puzzled by my use of his words as I was, just seeing them for the first time. But perhaps I'll improve my use of them, with practice.

Our vocabulary has become ever more scrannel. And yet? Our thoughts ever more a garboil. . . . Point-device plain.

No comments: