or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Rank Amateur

Looks like Jim is sleeping on the sofa tonight, because I am, as I have already noted, very clumsy. Very clumsy indeed. Long story short: bedroom, getting ready for work, small bottle of Omnia (which smells deliciously of black pepper, white chocolate and tea), butterfingers, and a carpet. Peroxide spot remover didn't do the trick. Air deodorizer likewise. Baking soda? Highly overrated. So Jim, with his exceedingly sensitive nose, has been stunk out of his own bedroom, and that's sad and I am saturated with guilt. My large and varied collection of scents is, to him, one great unremitting stench.

"Stench", you may have intuited, is related to "stink", which is a native English word evolved from "stincan", "to emit an odour". (I wrote before how "-k" or "-c" can become "-ch" as a word becomes naturalized into English or otherwise evolves, and of course vowels change on an almost regular basis.)

All well and good. But here's a connection that's slightly more abstract and therefore fascinating. "Perfume", of course, is from the Latin "per fumus", "through smoke", a reference to incense. Its opposite, "reek", "to emit a disgusting odour", is from a Middle English word, "reken", which means--get this--"to emit smoke".

So: one man's reek is another man's perfume, particularly if those men are etymologists.


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