This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Friday, 7 June 2013

Word To Use Today: bugle.

A bugle is a tube.

bugle brass

If you blow a raspberry down a tube it makes a noise. If you blow harder, it'll make a higher noise.

If you practise for long enough (and someone doesn't wrest your tube from you and jump up and down on it) then eventually you'll be able to play some tunes - but only some. You won't be able to make most of the notes you find on a piano unless you either make holes in the tube, or else you put in some valves so you can make the tube effectively longer or shorter at the press of a button.

And then it won't be a bugle any more.

Bugles used to be used for sending messages in battle. They were good for this because they have a wide bell at the end of the tube, which makes them good and loud for their size.

Here's a Roman bugle, but unfortunately its bell has been broken off.

I have rather a lot of bugles in my garden, but luckily this variety is unlikely to disturb the neighbours.

File:Ajuga reptans - Bugle rampante .JPG
photo by Patrice 78500

The scientists call this bugle Ajuga reptans.

Finally, bugles are beads, usually long glass ones, which are used to decorate fabric:


From war, to weeds, to party clothes.

Now there's word which really deserves a fanfare.

Word To Use Today: bugle. The musical instrument comes from the Latin word buculus, which means bullock, because the first ones were made of horns.
The weed comes from the Mediaeval Latin bugula, and the word for bead turned up in the 1500s. No one is sure where these words came from before that.


  1. A didgeridoo and a kazoo are also both wind instruments in which there are no valves, knobs or external controls to facilitate the playing of notes. I play both. My neighbours love me.

    1. And you must love your neighbours, Ed.

      I'm impressed with the kazoo and, especially, the didgeridoo.

      I have played the plunger, but not at all well, and only occasionally. That really is an invitation to violence.