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A.Word.A.Daywith Anu Garg
The new year is just around the corner. It brings new hopes, new ideas, new events. In a language, there's no new year -- it's always on the move. There's a constant churning in the waters of a language, words evolving, changing meanings, becoming obsolete, new words being born, gaining acceptance, and so on. This week we'll feature five words that today mean something quite different from their previous meanings.
MEANING:noun: An old woman; a hag.
ETYMOLOGY:From Middle English beldam (grandmother), from Old French bel (fine) + dame (lady). In Middle English, the prefix bel was used to indicate relationships, such as belsire or belfader (grandfather, ancestor). In Modern French belle is still used to indicate in-law relationships. A belle-mère is a mother-in-law or a stepmother, for example.
USAGE:"Carr mixes her story with such amusing oddballs as Carthage's mother, a vinegary and vain beldam."
'Bog' Weighed Down by Mundane Events; Minneapolis Star-Tribune; Mar 16, 2009.
Explore "beldam" in the Visual Thesaurus.
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:The real index of civilization is when people are kinder than they need to be. -Louis de Bernieres, novelist (b. 1954)
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