This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Friday, 29 July 2016

Word To Use Today: izard/izzard.

I came across the word izard when reading The Mysteries of Uldolpho by Ann Radcliffe. The first time I read it I assumed it was a printing error for lizard - it seemed to refer to a creature of the mountains, after all - but as I read the book the izards kept on coming back, and eventually my recollection is that someone served one up at a feast - and even the Gothic and murderous bandits of the Pyrenees were going to be fussier than that.

So what is an izard? It's another name for a chamois, which is a small (less than a metre tall) goat-antelope: 

File:Chamois at schneeberg.jpg
photo by Doronenko

Do we need another word for a chamois? Well, the way my family pronounced chamois (we used its soft leather for washing windows) was shammy, and I spent several years trying to find that word in the dictionary, so for me the answer is yes. Izard would have made things much less baffling.

While we're here, izzard, though said the same way, is a completely different word: it's an old term for the letter z. 

Now, Z is also a causer of difficulties because of the split between those who say zed and those who say zee

On the whole I think we should all switch to izzard. And izard. It'd solve two problems. And it's ever such good fun to say.

Word To Use Today: izard and/or izzard. Izard comes from the Gascon isart, and before that probably from some Iberian word. Izzard appeared in the 1700s. Before that it was ezed, probably from the Old French et z├Ęde, which means, endearingly, and zed

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