Forgotten English

A friend got me the coolest Christmas gift: “Jeffrey Kacirk’s Forgotten English”  A 366-Day Calendar of Vanishing Vocabulary and Folklore.

Needless to say I am excited,  a new word every day! I will be entertained all year and maybe actually save some words from being lost forever by incorporating said vanishing vocabulary into my every day language…er…or something like that.

But for the sake of writing and preserving useful words I do indeed have a mind to share some of the more useful/funny/appropriate words.

Toad-under-a-harrow

The comparative situation of a poor fellow whose wife – not satisfied with the mere henpecking of her helpmate – takes care that all the world shall witness the indignities she puts upon him.  The expression is also applied to any other similar, if such there be state of misery.

-John Brockett’s Glossary of North Country Words, 1825

Now, I choose this word for not only its humorous definition but for its usefulness as a turn of phrase in writing.  Cliches are perhaps a writer’s greatest curse.  And such a term as toad-under-a-harrow is not something you hear everyday…hence its place among the forgotten words.  So if you are struggling with how to describe a particularly miserable state in which a character finds himself…perhaps this “new” old word will be just the trick to enhancing  your text!

Happy reading, writing…and learning new words!

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