This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Friday, 19 December 2014

Word To Use Today: wort.

Some words are just shimmering with charisma and glamour...

No, you're right, wort isn't one of them.

Wort (you say it to rhyme with dirt, curt and chert, which just goes to show how awkward the English language can be at times) is an earthy sort of a word, a bung-it-in-the-cauldron-with-the-eye-of-newt-and-see-what-happens sort of a word.

Having said that, the potions that have been made with worts have often been made with the best of intentions, as the names of many worts attest. We have liverwort, lungwort, spleenwort:

File:Spleene-wort, John Gerard, 1633 Wellcome L0007144.jpg

milkwort, woundwort, stitchwort, bladderwort, adderwort, birthwort, barrenwort, bloodwort, navelwort, throatwort, blushwort, bruisewort, cancerwort, feverwort, goutwort, kidneywort, lustwort (whether tending to encourage or discourage lust I do not know) nipplewort, pilewort, quinsywort, rupturewort, scurvywort, sneezewort, toothwort, and lastly the oh-so-delightfully named wartwort.

(As if that's not enough worts, there's also the sweet wort you get when you mix ground malt with warm water when you're making beer.)

Do any of these worts have the slightest effect on any of the organs, woes, or diseases with which they are linked?

Probably not. Some worts, indeed, are positively harmful and poisonous, such as the swallow-worts or dog-strangling vines:

File:Gigantic swallow wort (Calotropis gigantea) in Hyderabad, AP W IMG 7953.jpg
Gigantic Swallow-wort, Calotropis gigantea. Photo by J.M.Garg

Still, worts have been around for a long time, and none of us are dead yet.

Well, that has to be the main thing, doesn't it.

 Word To Use Today: wort. A word with the suffix wort is often very old. Wort comes from the Old English wyrt, root, and can be traced back to Proto-Indo-European origins.

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