This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Sunday Rest: Word Not To Use Today: carbuncle.


Isn't it nasty? It's ludicrous, as well: and awkward and spiteful.

In fact carbuncle is such a horrible word that even when it means an uncut jewel it still sounds ugly. (A carbuncle is usually a garnet, but not always: the one Sherlock Holmes investigated was blue. And stuck in the neck of a goose.)

In Britain an ugly building will often be described as a carbuncle. The Prince of Wales is to blame for this: he described the proposed extension to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London, as 'a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend'.

Mind you, the thing was never built, so blame is possibly the wrong word.

The sort of carbuncle Prince Charles had in mind in this instance was not, I should imagine, any sort of a jewel, but an enormous bulging area of infected skin.


Carbuncle is also a reddish-greyish-brownish colour, which I'm having trouble imagining.

Quite honestly, I have not the faintest intention of even trying.

Word Not To Use Today: carbuncle. This word comes from the Latin word carbunculus, which comes from carbō and means little bit of coal.

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