Writing Life: “Old Words”

My sister-in-law Jeannie and I share a love of books, writing, and words. She sent me this, an excerpt from the Mussel Ridge News, which is a free publication of the Mussel Ridge Historical Society of Owls Head, Maine, where she and Paul live.

I like “taradidle” best, and will make every effort to use the word whenever I can. 🙂

As much as carpenters love working with ancient hand tools and gardeners turn the soil with rickety old spades and hoes, writers collect old words and phrases but have little opportunity to use them. Here’s a few our staff reporter discovered while researching topics for the Mussel Ridge NEWS.

*Dun- has many definitions but the one most interesting is: “to cure fish after salting, by covering with salt grass in a dark place”.
*Taradiddle- a trifling falsehood or petty lie; something of little consequence
*Messuage- (mes-wij) Olde English legal term for all land, crops, buildings & livestock owned by an individual. Often found in ancient deeds, mortgages and wills.

*Glebe lands- may also be known as Parson’s close or Rectory Manor. Defined as a section of land within an Eccliastical region reserved for the pastor’s or priest’s residence.
*Saleratus- (sal-uh-REY-tus) a chalk like by-product of wood ash lye which was used during the first half of the 1800s as a chemical leavener for baking. When introduced into bread or biscuit dough it created carbon dioxide gas causing the dough to be light and flakey. However, it was also thought to cause people’s teeth to fall out and was blamed for a multitude of unexplained deaths of people around the country. By 1860 it was replaced with the early forms of baking soda.”

2 thoughts on “Writing Life: “Old Words”

  1. Love these words! Your sentence “as much as carpenters love working with ancient hand tools” reminded me of a cable show I sometimes watch called “Building Off the Grid.” People build cabins in remote areas of Alaska, Montana, Maine. Most are hard to get building materials into and the weather is often a problem. But they always have a generator and power tools. On a recent show a man really wanted to build the way they did it in earlier days. He and a friend are shown cutting logs with a cross-cut saw – a handle at each end, moving back and forth. They finally decided it would take them 1-2 days to cut one log, so they plugged in a power saw to a solar generator…..which kept running out of power. After a lot of stop and start they decided that while the idea was noble it was not very practical. They would bring a generator on the next trip. Is it that way with using old words too?

  2. for Phyllis: That sentence was actually part of the article, but I agree with you fully. If any of us tried to use these old words, no one would understand us. I just like the way “taradiddle” sounds. 🙂

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