Monday, 28 July 2014

A Lovely Bit of Crumpet

Two crumpets, dripping with butter, with a cup of tea in the background
(photo by Gin Soak)


Noun. Late 17th century.
[origin uncertain: perhaps connected with crumb CRUM verb.]

1 obsolete. A thin griddle-cake. L17-M19

2 A soft cake made with flour and yeast and cooked on a griddle or other hot surface,
now usually of a type intended for toasting and eating with butter etc. M18

3 The head. Especially in barmy in the crumpet, barmy on the crumpet, wrong in the head, mad. slang. L19

4 old crumpet: used as a familiar form of address. slang. E20

5 A sexually attractive woman; women collectively; sexual intercourse with a woman. slang. Frequently considered offensive. M20

bit of crumpet, piece of crumpet a (desirable) woman.

Many years ago, while visiting friends abroad, they proudly announced on my arrival that they had stocked up on tea and crumpets. "Marvellous!" I beamed. "How jolly thoughtful of you!" But, alas, their bemused expressions belied the joke, akin to telling a Frenchman you had stocked up on baguettes and wine, or a Mexican on tortillas and guacamole. I was, it seemed, a stereotype, and it was a source of much amusement to them that I, as an Englishman, did actually drink lots of tea and enjoy a good crumpet.
(photo by Ben Ward)
The origin of the word crumpet is a bit of a mystery, although there are theories, including that it developed from the Old English crompid, meaning 'a curled up cake'. As a food, they've been around for at least a couple of hundred years, and have come to represent the very essence of English life. And if crumpets themselves are a mystery to you, you must ... you just must ... get your hands on a lovely bit o' crumpet. With each thick bite, delectably chewy and dripping with butter, you will be transported to a different time on a different plane, where childhood comforts and heavenly deliciousness reign. Oh my. I feel all funny inside. I'm happy to be a stereotype. I'm off to find myself a lovely bit of crumpet right now ...

Are you a fellow crumpeteer?

How do you like yours?

Butter, jam, Marmite, or something more exotic?

Do please trumpet for crumpets in the comment box below.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Cruciverbalist - An Enthusiast of Crosswords & Pretension


Noun. Late 20th century.
[from Latin crucis, crux cross + verbum word.]

An enthusiast for crossword puzzles;
a compiler or solver of crossword puzzles.

Cruciverbalist - a cool (if pretentious) word. If you want some crossword trivia, you might like to know that they're of relatively recent design, the British journalist Arthur Wynn usually credited with their invention in 1913 (although they've existed in elementary form since the 19th century). Anyway, whether you're a crucificionado of The New York Times' monster or The Sun's tea break quickie, here's a Lexicolatry-themed crossword for you to complete if you so desire (and do note how thoughtfully simple I've kept this post in order to facilitate easy printing of the page).

1 A medium-sized insectivore with a protruding nasal implement
6 Romanian currency (plural)
7 The 17th letter of the English alphabet
8 Black gold
10 Neanderthal speak, perhaps
12 This article just ain't definite
14 A balneomaniac binges on these
15 A snake fixation

1 Malay madness
2 Poe's corvid
3 A contrary greeting
4 I write [pertaining to] such-and-such ...
5 Thou shalt not do this
9 That's just what I was thinking!
11 Bitrex is added to the shower variety
12 Better take a brake from working on those, pretty boy
13 Talking about a snake again?

Do please verbalise your comments in the box below.
(and the answers too if you choose)

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Crucial - At a Crossroads

A knight on horseback ponders a crucial choice
"If you ride to the left, you will lose your horse; if you ride to the right, you will lose your head."
A Knight at the Crossroads by Victor M. Vasnetsov (1848-1926)


Adjective. Early 18th century.
[French, from Latin cruc-, crux cross: see -IAL. In sense 2 from instantia crucis (Bacon) crucial instance.]

1 Chiefly ANATOMY. Of the form of a cross, cruciate. Now rare. E18

2(a) That finally decides between hypotheses;
relating of leading to decision between hypotheses;
decisive; critical;
colloquial. very important. M19

2(b) Excellent. slang. L20

Don't be cross: crucial is a word we're all probably guilty of misusing, steadily diluting its meaning from 'decisive, critical', to merely 'very important'. Its earliest use was in the sense of cross-shaped, primarily in anatomical descriptions such as cruciate ligaments. Its development into that which is decisive came from the logical term instantia crucis, meaning crucial instance, being an experiment so designed as to disprove all other hypotheses (though not necessarily proving the experimenter's hypothesis). Seemingly, this draws on the metaphor of standing at a crossroads, where one can go this way or that, and the outcome to that decision will, critically, be decisive.

Do please leave your crossest comments in the comment box below.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Crowds - Collectively Rubbish

Well at least there are no crowd surfers
(photo by David Martyn Hunt)


Noun. Mid-16th century.
[from CROWD verb Old English crudan corresponding to Middle Low German, Middle Dutch kruden (Dutch kruien push in a wheelbarrow).]

1(a) A number of people gathered together so as to press upon or impede each other;
any large group of people in one place, especially an audience, a mass of spectators. M16

1(b) A group of actors representing a crowd. L19

2 singular & in plural. A large number of people or things considered collectively. E17

3 The multitude; the masses. L17

4 A set of associates; a set, a lot. colloquial. M19

I don't like crowds very much. They're hot, smelly and uncomfortable. And the definition spells it out - by its dictionary definition, a crowd is something that impedes you. Who in their right mind enjoys being impeded? And another thing: being very tall, I have a tendency to get kicked in the back of the head by crowd surfers at concerts. Really, crowds suck. And now that I've written out the reasons why crowds suck, why does anyone ever have to say they don't like crowds? Crowds are rubbish. No one should like them. And if you do you're a weirdo that probably likes kicking tall people in the back of the head.

The etymology of crowd is (kind of) interesting - it comes from Old English crudan, meaning 'to press, to push'. This, however, is also related to the Dutch verb kruien, which means 'to push in a wheelbarrow'. And when you think about it, that's exactly it. If you really need to get somewhere while pushing a wheelbarrow ... and we're talking really need to get somewhere ... like it's a wheelbarrowful of the Queen's knickers or something ... the last thing you'd want to do would be to try and push through a crowd. With a wheelbarrow. That'd just be nuts. Really, crowds suck. And it's high time they were abolished.

A red wheelbarrow
Do please leave a multitude of comments in the box below.