This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Friday, 11 May 2012

Word To Use Today: punt.

We're well into May, which in England means Spring, the Sweet Spring, the year's pleasant thing...

...or, alternatively, iron grey skies and people peering out through the gloom to report in pleased voices it's only drizzling!

Ah well.

Any punt you see on any English river is likely to be up to its gunnels in rainwater, but they're still pretty things, much associated with the English university towns of Oxford and Cambridge. They're jolly useful for watching the rowing races in May-Week, too (though of course this takes place in June).

'Our river' by George Dunlop Leslie 1888.

I understand that this:

football punt
Picture from Wpclipart.

is some kind of football player punting, that is kicking, a ball. It must be a dangerous activity, too, judging by his head-gear. I know rugby players punt the ball, but I don't think this can be a rugby player  because if rugby players wore helmets they wouldn't have such squashed faces.

If you're in Britain or NewZealand or Australia you could have a punt on the outcome of the football or the rowing. That sort of a punt is a bet, and it's usually against a bank rather than with a friend.

Not so long ago you might have placed your bet in punts, too. This was the unit of currency in Ireland before they plumped for the excitements of the Euro.

Lastly, the Land of Punt is so deeply mysterious that no one knows whether it was in the Horn of Africa or the Arabian Peninsula, but it sold perfumes to the Ancient Egyptians. This:

is the wife of the King of Punt.

Hm. There's no accounting, is there.

Word To Use Today: punt.  The word for boat is an Old English word which comes from the Latin puntō, which means punt or pontoon. The kick sort of punt is perhaps a variation of the dialect word bunt, to push. The bet comes from the French ponte, from Spanish punto and Latin punctum, which mean a point.
The Irish money punt is the Irish form of the word pound, as in sterling.


  1. Oh dear is all one can say about Mrs Punt. But I do like the boats, I have to say. And going to look up that Spring the sweet spring thing. I know the Word Den is NEVER WRONG but I think that quote should be " The year;s pleasant King." I will be back in this comments box to apologize in a mo if I'm proved wrong!!

  2. It is KING! Thomas Nashe is the author.

  3. Whoops! And that's what it says in the link I put in the post, too.

    Sorry, Adele - and thanks for pointing it out. I've obviously elided bits of the first two lines in what I laughably call my memory.

    Do I get points for ALMOST knowing it off by heart?

    Er...probably not.

    Ah well!