This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Thing Not To Be Today: parboiled.

It's England, it's summer, and it's hot.

The last is naturally a surprise to everyone.

We English loved the first few days of not-having-to-wear-scarves-for-once, but then of course we discovered that we had nothing to complain about.

Conversation died.

Now, fortunately, we're totally fed up with the heat and so we're talking to each other again, shaking our heads over moorland fires and water shortages. 

Not that the water shortages have happened, yet: but, hey, they might.

Anyway, here we are, either lurking inside behind heavy curtains, or getting parboiled by the unaccustomed sunshine. 

The palest of us are turning an unattractive shade of lobster.

File:Lobster meal.jpg
photo by Hartmut Inerle

To make things worse, those among us too old to care have cast off far too many garments and are inflicting agonies on anyone with artistic sensibilities. Actually, anyone with any sensibilities at all.

Meanwhile, our green and pleasant land is turning into a vast crispy doormat.

Still, things could be worse: it could be cold and raining.

(We don't like that, either.)

Thing Not To Be Today: parboiled. Parboiled means partly boiled. It's the sort of thing you might do to a potato before you roast it, but it's also used to describe people in hot weather. It comes, oddly, from the Latin perbullīre, to boil thoroughly.

The change in meaning occurred because it's commoner for a person to fail to pronounce his Ts than to speak Latin, and so the par- in parboil has been misunderstood to be short for part, rather than a variation on the Latin per- which means through.

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