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 January 2013

Word To Use Today: dastard.

Is there any word in the world more fun to use than this one?



That picture is of course of the splendid Dick Dastardly, of Wacky Races fame. And when I talk of fame, I'm talking about a man so famous that he's changed the meaning of the word dastard.

To me, as to millions (billions, perhaps) a dastard is a deep-dyed villain.

But to the dictionary a dastard is a contemptible sneaking coward. (That's what it says: a contemptible sneaking coward. Presumably that's as opposed to an admirable coward, which of course we usually term a statesman.)

Dastard is called old-fashioned by the lexicographers, but it's too much fun to leave unused and I think we should take it out and give it a jolly good airing.

After all, if the person you call a dastard is a dastard in the old dictionary sense then you'll probably get away with it.

Word To Use Today: dastard. This word was first used in England in the 1400s, when it meant someone stupid. It probably comes from the old Norse word dæstr, which means exhausted or out of breath.


  1. Along with Dick Dastardly the cartoon trilogy also contained Winsome Witch. In one episode of this a kitten was wandering around and no one wanted it and it felt unloved. I cried my eyes out as it is horrid to be unloved. My mum came in the room and asked me what was wrong - but I felt too embarasse to tell her. This was on a Friday afternoon and I was 9 years old. I remember it well. Of course, Winsome Witch helped the kitten and all was well. I know, I know, I am a big softy really. The other cartoon in the trilogy was Squiggy Diggly (or some such name) about an octopus.

  2. And this is why I write for children - because everything is so much more important and interesting than it is to grown ups.

    Thanks for the story, Puppet. You're very welcome to The Word Den.

    Winsome...that's a good word...and so is squiggly, come to think about it.