Obsolete Word of the Day

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

wretchlessness

Not to be confused with wretchedness, which means either to be distressed in mind or body, or extremely bad or distressing. As in: "He was in wretched health"; or "he had a wretched accident".

Eliezer Edward (Words, Facts, and Phrases: A Dictionary of Curious Matters, 1882) had this to say about wretchlessness:

This word occurs in the seventeenth article of the Church of England. It is quoted by John Earle in his Philology of the English Tongue [1873] as a curious instance of the change of form in words. He says, "To understand this word we have only to look at it when divested of its initial w, and then to remember than an ancient Saxon c at the end of a syllable commonly developed into tch. In this way, we get back to the verb to reck, so that wretchlessness really means recklessness, or caring for nothing, although the words look so unalike."

Those kooky Saxons.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those kooky saxons. Beave

1/31/06, 8:21 PM  
Blogger the scribbler said...

Like I said...

2/1/06, 2:08 PM  

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