This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Thing To Do Today: sibilate.

Bertie Wooster said* that it's possible to hiss a word that hasn't got an s in it - but then Bertie Wooster knew some remarkably worrying people.

For the rest of us, to sibilate we need esses. Or zeds (I understand you call them zees in the USA). Or possibly cees. Use them liberally and with relish: cause nervous mongooses to dive for cracks in the pavement, and mothers to check if they've left the gas on.

She sells seashells by the seashore, I understand, in Mrs Smith's Fish Sauce Shop, though Sheila seldom sells shelled shrimps, but crisp snacks of salty squid.

Or, to go for a classier option:

If th'assassination
Could trammel up the consequence and catch
With his surcease, success

Ah yes. Macbeth was a great one for sibilation -

To make society
The sweeter welcome, we will keep ourselves
Til suppertime alone.

The question that inevitably arises is, is sibilation a sign of a scoundrel?

Not necessarily. It might be a sign of badly-fitting false teeth. Or a semi-eaten gobstopper. Or a shyness or tenderness or sadness so acute the victim can only whisper.

And so, sadly, to this post's finish. 

Parting is such sweet sorrow, isn't it.

Thing To Do Today: sibilate. The Latin word sīlbilāre means to hiss.

*In Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit.

No comments:

Post a Comment