WEIRD! It's a very weird word
SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia
Weird is a very weird word indeed:
- It describes itself, just as stifle is an anagram of itself.
- It's an exception to the spelling rule "I before E except after C".
- It's onomatopoeic, where the sound suggests the meaning.
- It's an anagram of WIRED and WIDER.
Try shouting it aloud, prolonging the sound at a high pitch: WEEEERD!
The neighbours or workmates will think you are, too.
Other onomatopoeic words are murmur, boo, buzz and SHOUT, boom, cuckoo and
More than a century ago, Albert Harris Tolman wrote:
Strangely enough the word weird has come into modern English entirely
from its use in Macbeth. The word occurs six times in this play as usually
printed: five times in the expression "weird sisters" (I. iii. 32; I. v. 8;
II. i. 20; III. iv. 133; IV. i. 136), and once in the phrase "the weird
women" (III. i. 2).
Stranger still, weird does not appear at all in the only
authoritative text of the tragedy, that of the First Folio. In that edition
the word is weyword in the first three passages in the play, and
weyard in the last three. It was Theobold, the dearest foe of Pope, who
saw that Shakespeare must have written weird, and that this rare word
had been changed because of "the ignorance of the copyists."
Before dictionaries existed, English words were spelt in various ways.
Shakespeare even spelt his own name several different ways. "The name
Shakespeare is extremely widespread," says Linda Alchin, of William Shakespeare
Info, "and is spelt in an astonishing variety of ways including Shakspere,
Shakespere, Shakkespere, Shaxpere, Shakstaff, Sakspere, Shagspere, Shakeshafte
and even Chacsper as can be seen via details of possible ancestors."
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE is an anagram of I AM A WEAKISH SPELLER.
As for the "I before E except after C" rule, Bob Cunningham lists these
beige, cleidoic, codeine, conscience, deify, deity, deign, dreidel,
eider, eight, either, feign, feint, feisty, foreign, forfeit, freight,
gleization, gneiss, greige, greisen, heifer, heigh-ho, height, heinous,
heir, heist, leitmotiv, neigh, neighbor, neither, peignoir, prescient, rein,
science, seiche, seidel, seine, seismic, seize, sheik, society, sovereign,
surfeit, teiid, veil, vein, weight, weir, weird.
Come to think of it, it's weird that the weirdest word of them all is listed
Story first posted
Copyright © 2007