This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Thing To Do Today (or Possibly Not): thirl.

The heavy responsibility of writing The Word Den...

...oh, all right, not really. It's a blast. But even so, it's not easy to know whether I should be encouraging people to thirl things or not.

In its Scots meaning, to enslave, I certainly couldn't recommend it.

But then thirl means to bind, too, and that's fine you're trying to stop your haystack falling to pieces, you hair getting in your soup, or your bike being stolen.

Then there's the other thirl, which means to bore (as in make a hole). Again, I wouldn't want to suggest that anyone makes a hole in the bottom of a dam or a flour sack or a Ming vase; but if you want to hang up a picture or build a nest for a woodpecker then of course that's a fine and useful activity.

Best of all is the third thirl. This is the at heart same word as thrill.


Go for it!

Choose the highest flume, or the vindaloo, or the next bus that comes along.

Watch the late-night movie:

Or the big match:

rugby, sports, players, competition, rough, tackling

Go on. Give yourself a thirl.

Thing To Do Today: thirl. The word meaning to bind or enslave is connected with the Old English thrǣl, which means slave; the word meaning to drill comes from the Old English thyrelian, from thyrel, which means hole. Pleasingly, it's the same word as you find in nostril.

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