This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Thing To Do Today: spatchcock.

You can often guess what a word means from its sound, of course.

Eel, for instance, sounds so slippery and long that surely it just has to mean eel.

Sometimes this feeling is so strong it can even change the meaning of a word, and I think this is what must have happened to spatchcock.

Spatchcocked together means cobbled together, or shoved together until the thing is stuck, that sort of thing.

Spatchcocked is plainly the ideal word for this meaning, but, strangely, the word started off describing a chicken or grouse that had been split down the middle and then opened out so it can be grilled.

So how has spatchcocked come to mean squashed together? (It means, very often, extra words that have been shoved into a sentence when they don't belong there.)

No one seems to know for sure.

But surely, surely, it must be all in the sound. Spatchcock: why, you can practically hear the scrunch.

Thing To Do Today: spatchcock. This word is probably from the word spitchcock, an Irish word which emerged in the 1700s to describe a spit-open fried eel.

There's also an alternative theory that it's short for dispatch the cock.

Vegetarians might like to stick with the inappropriate-word-squeezing-in-custardy-option.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful connection at the end there with the eel!! And I have never used spatchcock except in the context of chicken. Had no idea it could mean anything else...thank you!