This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Monday, 30 May 2016

Spot the Frippet: wally.

I realise that the Word Den isn't first to try to spot Wally*:

(Here's Wally being drawn by his illustrator and creator Martin Handford)

but for those of us with no time to search the faces of an enormous crowd:


for a man in a striped hat, there are other wallies around that are easier to spot.

In Britain, a wally is usually a stupid person - not one who's unintelligent, necessarily, but someone who has done a silly thing. A Nobel Prize physicist who went out without his door keys would be a wally, for instance, as would someone who used salt instead of sugar when making a cake (but probably only if it was a man: wallies are usually male) or who fell into a dustbin while trying to clean it.

Wally has had a much more distinguished history in Scotland. From the 1600s it meant fine, pleasing or splendid, but now it's much more likely to mean made of china:

 or perhaps lined with ceramic tiles:

(This isn't Scotland, this is the dome of the rock, Jerusalem)

So there we are. Well, it's made playing Where's Wally easier, hasn't it?

Word To Use Today: wally. The silly person word is probably short for the Christian name Walter. No one is sure where the fine and pleasing word comes from, but the china word comes from wallow, which is an old local word meaning faded, from the Old English wealwian.

*Apparently he's called Waldo in America.

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