Fetching “charming; captivating,” a participle of the verb fetch, derives from Old English fecc(e)an, a variant of fetian “to bring back; to take.” Fetian, in turn, comes from the Proto-Indo-European root ped- “foot,” or by extension, “to walk,” which is the source of dozens of words related to the lower extremities and how we use them. Because Proto-Indo-European p- and d- often become f- and t- in English and other Germanic languages, the root ped- is recognizable in the words foot, fetter, and (via German) foosball. By way of the Latin derivative pēs (stem ped-) “foot,” we have pedal, pedestrian, expedite, and impede, and via Ancient Greek poús (stem pod-) “foot,” we have octopus and podium. Fetching as an adjective was first recorded in English in the late 1870s, but the verb fetch, with the sense “to captivate,” was first recorded in the early 1600s.
Aphids, those sap-sucking foes of gardeners, come in a variety of colours. We usually think of them as green, but pea aphids sometimes wear a fetching red ensemble. That may not strike you as anything special; after all, lots of animals are red. But the aphid’s colour is unique in a couple of extraordinary ways.
“Audrey bought me this getup at the new mall in Roanoke Rapids. She says it’s the latest in fetching attire for elderly gents. Don’t tell me she’s wrong.” Mabry did his best to match the grin. “Not wrong at all.”
a structure usually regarded as a tomb, consisting of two or more large, upright stones set with a space between and capped by a horizontal stone.
Dolmen “a structure consisting of upright stones capped by a horizontal stone” is possibly a borrowing from Cornish, the Celtic language once spoken in Cornwall, a region of southwest England. Beyond this point, the history of dolmen becomes muddled; the word could be a corruption of tolmên, as used in William Borlase’s 1754 collection of essays Antiquities, Historical and Monumental, of the County of Cornwall, in which Borlase implies that the word derives from a local name, mên an tol or maen tol “the holed stone,” corresponding to Cornish toll “hole” and men “stone.” Dolmen was first recorded in English in the late 1850s.
When I get up close to a dolmen, I often have a bit of a sit-down inside and commune with my ancestors, keeping an ear out. It was on a rainy day … in County Donegal—when the Irish air was soft with mist and the green hills were dotted with lambs—that the portal tomb in a nearby pasture called to me.
I found the dolmen before I knew it: a curiosity in the center of a field, strewn about with small stones like a gaggle of offspring. It was a knock-kneed little tomb, its two supports leaning together but the flat capstone still firmly in place, level as a tabletop. All three megaliths were fuzzy with golden lichen, and radiated the morning’s sun.
verb (used without object)
to be sparing or frugal; economize.
Scrimp “to be sparing or frugal” is likely a borrowing from a Scandinavian language such as Danish, Norwegian, or Swedish, all of which descend from Old Norse. Both English and Old Norse are Germanic languages, but despite their close relationship, they diverged about 2,000 years ago, and this time apart resulted in many sound changes. Two common changes were the shifts from k to ch and from sk to sh, which happened in English but not in Scandinavian languages. This means that, when the Vikings invaded Great Britain and many Old Norse words entered English, English terms had to compete with their Norse cognates, resulting in church and kirk, shirt and skirt, and sharp and scrape. Though it entered English centuries after the Viking invasion, the Scandinavian word scrimp was originally a cognate of the English word shrimp; both derived from a Germanic verb meaning “to contract, shrink,” and while shrimp continued to refer to physical size, scrimp shifted to refer to money. Scrimp was first recorded in English in the early 1700s.
The bride should be caught up in a delightful whirl. A marriage should be royal and magical. … Dwell on Olympus for that one day at least. Be gods. Ah! … Don’t stint on nuptials, don’t clip their splendour, don’t scrimp on the day that you shine. A wedding isn’t housekeeping. Oh, if I had a free hand, it would be glorious! Violins would be heard playing among the trees.
Though Thanksgiving falls on the more relaxed end of the sartorial spectrum in terms of American holidays, it’s no excuse to scrimp on style completely. Chic, timeless, and surprisingly versatile, an elevated slipper shoe is a simple yet effective way to keep your look from veering in too casual a direction.
Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox