This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Monday, 16 April 2012

Spot the frippet: rogue.

Rogue is a growly sort of a word, and what it's saying is beware baddies.

A rogue always seems to be male, although it is sometimes used jokingly, as in oh, you are a rogue! to mean someone no worse than mischievous.

There are vegetable, as well as human rogues - no, not runner beans with a propensity to jump up from the plate and strangle people, but any crop plant which is a bit, well, weedy, or of the wrong variety. The word has the same sort of meaning when it's used to describe something unfit for its purpose, as in I bought a pack of rogue underpants.

There are animal rogues, too. This is usually some unfriendly or fierce creature, perhaps one that's escaped from a farm. Quite often, it's a dangerously irritable elephant. The word rogue started off meaning someone homeless and jobless, but nowa days it's more often used of an animal in that sense than of a human.

There are even mechanical rogues. A rogue dialler is a computer program which secretly connects a somone to a very expensive  phone number.

So there we are. A veritable rogues' gallery for us to spot.

Spot the frippet: rogue. This word appeared in English in the 1500s, when many people were forced to become vagrants and rogues. The word may come from the Latin word rogāre, which means to beg.

If you really can't spot anyone even slightly dodgy (unlikely, I know), and you don't live in a rogue state, then you can always go out and do a bit of roguing, which means weeding out your weak plants.

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