Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Belated 'Wordy Wednesday'?

I've been considering doing 'Wordy Wednesday' as a feature on this blog, but so far I haven't implemented it. Tuesday I picked up the latest copy of BookPage at my local library, and on the back page is a column entitled 'WordNook'. BookPage is a great little free magazine that you can read in its entirety online if you don't have a local outlet that carries it. Many bookstores and libraries do. There's a list on the site to help you find the closest.

BookPage features reviews of upcoming books of all genres to help you decide which you'd like to check out from your library add to your own personal collection. It also has a column called 'Author Enablers', where prospective writers send questions about the industry and writing life. They have a blog as well.

Enough babbling: where's the wordage, you cry? Okay, the letter that caught my attention was about the word ruth. The letter asked if ruthless was ever used without the -less, if there was ever a ruthsome or ruthful. Here's what the people at WordNook had to say:

Yes, Virginia, there is a ruth! It's more than a century older than ruthless, and it hasn't seen much recent use, but it's still a valid word. Ruth can mean either "compassion for the misery of another" or "sorrow for one's own faults". Ruthful, ruthfully, and ruthfulness are other ruth- words that have declined in use just in the past century. In addition, there are ruthly and ruthness, which have been in disuse for several centuries and are now considered obsolete. But we regret to tell you that we have no evidence that there has ever been a ruthsome.

They go on to mention that ruth descends from the Middle English verb ruen, which means "to rue". It's not related to the name Ruth, because that name has its origins in Hebrew.

Well, now you know. And now the word ruth looks weird to me. I wonder what causes that. Perhaps that's a topic for another time.

Print it in Moleskine MSK format

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