This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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



Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Thing Probably Not To Do Today: dirl.



You have got to be kidding - it took this long? Image from Darwin's Expressions of Emotions of Man and Animals, 1872 (Public domain image expired copyright / commons.wikimedia.org)
Image from Darwin’s Expressions of Emotions of Man and Animals,1872

The word dirl has taken on a sudden new life, and I rather wish it hadn't.

The old dirl is such a fantastic word. It means to shake or vibrate, and it can also mean a blow strong enough to make your head ring, or the ringing sound itself.

The Scots use it most. This is from Masterpieces of Mystery, Vol. 1 (of 4) Ghost Stories:

Weel, it wad appear that when he askit that, she gave a girn that fairly frichtit them that saw her, an they could hear her teeth play dirl thegether in her chafts; but there was naething for it but the ae way or the ither; an' Janet lifted up her hand and renounced the deil before them a '.
 
And good for her, I say.
 
In America dirl has also sometimes been used to mean to thrill or penetrate.
 
But what about dirl's new life?
 
Sadly it's grown up badly. It's become an acronym, and it stands for Die In Real Life.
 
Which makes giving someone a great ringing clout on the head seem almost lovable, doesn't it.
 
Thing Probably Not To Do Today: dirl. This word appeared in the early 1500s and may be something to do with the word drill.


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