This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Friday, 8 January 2016

Word To Use Today: rum.

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Why do I know those lines of that song so well and yet have no idea at all about its tune?

It's because the song never had one.

Robert Louis Stevenson made up those lines for his novel Treasure Island. Other people have finished the song off, or have used it in various ways, but I rather like it as it is: rough, virile, and snarling.

Having said that, those lines are slightly annoying because I've spent a lot of time in my life wondering how fifteen men could fit on a dead man's chest - though it was a relief when I realised it was probably the chest the dead man kept his underpants in, rather than his heart.

Anyway, rum is a strong alcoholic drink made of fermented sugar. It's also British slang for odd-and-suspicious. That's a bit rum, someone will say, meaning that there might be more to that than meets the eye. 

Alternatively, that's a bit rum might mean that's a bit unfair, or a bit unfortunate.

Anyway, rum: a rather lovable and useful word. I recommend it.

Word To Use Today: rum. The drink might have started off being called rumbullion, but no one knows why. Rum meaning odd might be one of our rare words stolen from Romany. Rom in Romany means man.

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