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"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Alice and Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass might as well have been talking about this week's set of words. While these words do not have as many meanings as the word "set" (the Oxford English Dictionary devotes 26 pages to it), each of this week's hard-working words has many unrelated meanings. And they are not bland, like the word set.

With these words, one could say, we get our money's worth.

malkin (MO-kin, MAL-kin) noun

1. An untidy woman; a slattern.

2. A scarecrow or a grotesque effigy.

3. A mop made of a bundle or rags fastened to a stick.

4. A cat.

5. A hare.

[From Middle English Malkyn (little Molly), diminutive of the name Maud or Molly/Mary.]

A related word is grimalkin, referring to an old female cat or an ill-tempered old woman.

-Anu Garg (garg wordsmith.org)

"And speaking o' cats, gray malkins hunt through the forest as well." Cecilia Dart-Thornton; The Battle of Evernight; Aspect; 2003.


Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. It's one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period. -Nicholas Sparks, author (1965- )

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