Take Our Word For It Issue 206 http://www.takeourword.com
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**This Week's Issue**
NOTE: The links in this newsletter are good until the next issue is
In Spotlight we give you Saints and Days
In Words to the Wise we bring you the following words:
damn your eyes
sixes and nines/sixes and sevens
In Curmudgeons' Corner Barb Dwyer is back with back to school
In Sez You... we hear from readers about the previous issue of TOWFI
In Laughing Stock we bring you a "hardy" dinner
Though we got the new issue published, Mike's "day" job is keeping him
from getting his review of "The Meaning of Tingo" written. However, we
are going to add this book to the bookstore. Stay tuned for that
Please send us material for Laughing Stock. There is no winner this
week since we took the photo ourselves!
Don't forget to read our blog (http://www.takeourword.com/blog1) for
etymological and other langauge-related discussions that you won't find
here or in TOWFI. And you can participate in the blog discussions!
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NEW: if you have an etymological or language-related book to recommend
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Recently, I acquired a collection of Arthuian Legends which was
composed shortly after the turn of the last century, c.1902. Repeatedly
I have come across several archaic words which are no longer to be
found, even among the myriad on-line dictionaries, so, as a last
resort, I have come to your group.
The word I cannot find is "liever".
To put it in context, I quote, "But I would liever fight than live here
all my life, and so I will undertake that adventure as thou wouldst
have me do."
Though not having an exact definition does not diminish my
comprehension of the above excerpt, the obscurity of this word is both
intriguing and puzzling. Thank you for your time.
It's our pleasure. You cannot find it because it is considered
obsolete. Few dictionaries but the OED list it, we imagine. Also, the
more common spelling is "liefer". It derives from "lief", a wonderful
Old English word that first turns up in Beowulf (and speaking of
Beowulf, it has been made into a film that is in limited release at the
moment, check http://www.beowulfandgrendel.com for more information.
And no, we have no financial interest in the film, it is simply
interesting as being based on one of the earliest [Old] English texts
known). "Lief" originally meant "beloved". Over time it came to be
used in various contructions that meant "dear to me", "I would rather",
"desirous, wishful", "dearly, gladly, willingly". In your example, the
speaker is saying "I would gladly fight than live here all my life",
which you undoubtedly deduced from context. The etymology of this word
may put it into perspective: it comes from the same Indo-European root,
*lubh, that gave us "love" and "believe". Note that the word has had
many forms and spellings over the millenia, but most notably, it has
been spelled with an "f", a "v", and a "u" in the fourth position.
Some other cognates are "leman", "livelong", "leave" (permission, i.e.,
"with your leave"), and "libido" (from Latin "libere", to be dear,
Until next time,
Take Our Word For It!
Melanie and Mike