or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Friday, May 20, 2005


Perhaps this happens to other people, too: sometimes a word will catch my eye, and I'll begin to wonder how it might be related to other words, and then a whole swarm of words will suggest themselves to me. Or maybe it's just me.

Anyway. I was looking at "bench", and since it rhymes with "stench", I wondered what the connection between the two might be, if there were any. I didn't think there was a direct connection, mind you; it just occurred to me that since they have the same ending, perhaps there was something to it. And indeed, there is.

What led me to the supposition of relatedness was that I immediately thought of a pair of related words, "bank" and "stank". Surely, I thought, since "stench" and "stank" clearly seem to be cousins, "bench" might be related to "bank". And it is! ("Banca" is the Italian word for "bench".)

Since those relationships were established, I began to rack my brains for other such pairs or groupings of words. What about "rank" and "ranch"? Yes, indeed: both are related to the word "arrange". "Mark" and "march"? Oh yes: marching means marking time with your feet. "Punk" and "punch"? Don't know about that one: the origin of "punk" isn't established. But I'm still willing to bet that there's a connection somehow. (I had hoped that "pink", in the sense of "pinking shears", and "pinch" were related, but no dice. Ditto with "block" and "blotch". But "lurk" and "lurch" seem to be cousins: "snack" and "snatch" definitely are, and also "drink" and "drench".)

So there you go. If in idle moments you see a word ending in "-nk", "-rk", "-nch", or "-rch", you might want to tack on its matching ending, perhaps play with the vowels, and see if another word presents itself. If it does, chances are at least fifty-fifty that they're related.

It's my idea of fun.


Blogger Frank said...

Oh, no, it's not just you at all, Pyramus! The same thing often happens to me, forcing me to go look up etymologies to find any connections. It's just part of the mad charm of the word nerd.

Saturday, May 21, 2005 3:18:00 AM  

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