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Oct 18, 2005
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Words about words

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with Anu Garg


(god-WOT-uhr-ee) Pronunciation RealAudio

1. Gardening marked by an affected and elaborate style.
2. Affected use of archaic language.

From the line "A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!" in a poem by Thomas Edward Brown (1830-1897).

Now here is a word with a dual personality. Poet T.E. Brown unwittingly helped coin it when he wrote a poem describing his garden filled with all that came to his mind: grotto, pool, ferns, roses, fish, and more.

And when he needed a word to rhyme with the line "Rose plot," he came up with "God wot!" He used "wot", an archaic term that's a variant of wit (to know), to mean "God knows!" and it stood out among other contemporary words in the poem.

If you wish to create your own godwottery, we recommend: sundials, gnomes, fairies, plastic sculptures, fake rockery, pump-driven streams, and wrought-iron furniture. A pair of pink flamingos will round it out nicely.

"And an important thing about all this godwottery -- as Anthony Burgess calls it -- is that all types and classes embrace it."
Paul Fussell; The Great War and Modern Memory; Oxford University Press; 2000.


Don't judge men's wealth or godliness by their Sunday appearance. -Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (1706-1790)

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