This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Sunday Rest: bucolic. Word Not To Use Today.

Bucolic is a truly horrid word. It sounds like a cow with stomach ache (and just think, a cow has four stomachs to ache, poor thing).

As it happens bucolic is to do with cows - or used to be. Nowadays, however, it describes anything that's to do with the countryside or country life. 

The use of such a nasty word for this purpose is clearly madness. I mean, country life is, on the whole, a rather lovelier thing than town or city life. True enough you find more slaughtering of beasts, but, hey, it's often done to the sound of trickling streams and birdsong. 

Although the word bucolic started off with cows, nowadays it's more often used to describe shepherds than cowherds, and particularly to describe a poem written as a conversation between a shepherd and his love.* 

Having said that, bucolic can be used to describe any farmer or shepherd - although not safely if one of them is listening.

The Highland Shepherd by Rosa Bonheur

Word Not To Use Today: bucolic. This word comes from the Greek boukolikos, from boukolos, cowherd, from bous, ox.

PS There is another form of the word, bucolical, but it's obviously miles too silly to use.

*I suppose it's possible it's just that cowherds aren't as naturally poetic as shepherds, but as far as I know no one has done the research.

No comments:

Post a Comment