Monday, October 15, 2012

Balmy

Meaning: to do with balm or reminiscent of balm or pleasantly scented or pleasant and warm (only used of evenings, for some reason) or a little crazy and / or excited - yes, barmy.

Usefulness: 1 (especially if you are lucky enough to have jasmine in your back yard, and can, on days as lovely as the one we had in Melbourne today, use balmy in several senses)

Logofascination: 1 (balmy and barmy are seperate words, but they have become in-laws thanks to the vagaries of English etymology - barmy is related to barm, an obscure term to do with yeast and the head on a beer, but it seems to have been conflated with a sense of balm which meant idiotic - to do with mildness, perhaps? While the ODO defines a balmy evening as a warm and pleasant one, the OED does not yet have any citations for balmy meaning warm. Pleasant or delicious - how is an evening delicious, exactly? - but not warm.)

In the wild: well, there is these guys and their annoyingly catchy chant.

Degrees: 2

Connections: balmy - balm

Which is used in: G&P, Prologue, in which Rabelais compares his story - particularly the rude bits - to the Sileni:

Silenes of old were little boxes, like those we now may see in the shops of apothecaries, painted on the outside with wanton toyish figures, as harpies, satyrs, bridled geese, horned hares, saddled ducks, flying goats, thiller harts, and other such-like counterfeited pictures at discretion, to excite people unto laughter, as Silenus himself, who was the foster-father of good Bacchus, was wont to do; but within those capricious caskets were carefully preserved and kept many rich jewels and fine drugs, such as balm, ambergris, amomon, musk, civet, with several kinds of precious stones, and other things of great price.

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