This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Thing To Do Today: juggle.

The thing about juggling, as with playing the piano or the Three Card Trick, is - but others have put it better than me.

Doubtless the pleasure is as great
Of being cheated, as to cheat.
As lookers-on feel most delight,
That least perceive a juggler's sleight,
And still the less they understand,
The more th' admire his slight of hand. 
Samuel Butler (1612-1690)

Shakespeare had rather the same feeling about jugglers, I think. Certainly when he was juggling the elements of his farce The Comedy of Errors he had them in his mind.

 Here's Antipholus of Syracuse:

They say this town is full of cozenage,
As, nimble jugglers that deceive the eye,

and here's his twin Antipholus of Ephesus*:

Along with them
They brought one Pinch, a hungry lean-faced villain,
A mere anatomy, a mountebank,
A threadbare juggler and a fortune-teller,

Neat, huh? How easy it is to step in meaning from someone who deceives the eye to someone who deceives the soul.

Of course, I must make it plain here that when not in Shakespeare's plays jugglers are remarkable for their integrity and honour. They also give us a lot of fun.

If you're a beginner, I understand that practice with chiffon scarves is recommended.

File:Munich - Two clown musicians and a pretty juggler - 6858.jpg
Jorge Royan

Beware, though, because juggling can become compulsive: you may have noticed that it's always the person who's already juggling two jobs, three children, a house, a garden, and a book group who decides to run the charity marathon.

Ah well. As long as everyone is enjoying themselves.

Thing To Do Today: juggle. This word comes from the Old French jangler, from the Latin iocor, which means I make a joke.

*No, I have no idea at all why anyone would give both their twins the same name.


  1. I quite like the occasional juggle, with inert objects that is - I find soul deception somewhat trickier.

    There can't be that many words that rhyme with juggle can there? A botched mugging - a muggle? A baby tug - a tuggle? That tiny feeling of pride over having remembered to leave the porridge bowl in to soak - a smuggle?

    Wait, no, that last one's taken.


    1. Thanks very much indeed for this, Clueless. I daren't comment on muggle, but I do love your other definitions, and shall start using them immediately.
      It's certainly a struggle to think of other words that rhyme with juggle, isn't it.