Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Meaning: of frogs and toads.

Usefulness: 1 (depends on culture and context: if you're English, and therefore statutorily obliged to insult the French at least once a week, it would be quite handy. If you're not, its usefulness may depend on your proximity to lakes, swamps or French restaurants.)

Logofascination: 2

In the wild: I found it in the OED, while looking up Angle, as in Anglo-Saxon, Anglican, etc.  Back in 1989 someone in The Times wrote:
It may‥be that the whole idea of a mission civilisatrice‥inevitably suggests distasteful batrachian doings south of Calais, and is thus profoundly antipathetic to us Angles.
It's listed under Angle n3, which is the "English, Englishmen". There is something rather endearing about the OED using a quote about the French to evidence this word; I think it's the snide insinuation about both their colonial and gastronomical practices that does it. 

Degrees: 2

Connections: batrachian - frog

Which is used in: G&P, Book the First, V: Discourse of the Drinkers. Quite possibly my favourite chapter, Rabelais has somehow captured the noisy, clever nonsense that just the right sort of people will manage after just the right number of drinks, and Sir Thomas has brought it and its rhythm across into English:
If I drink not, I am a-ground, dry, gravelled and spent.
I am stark dead without drink, and my soul ready to fly into some marsh amongst frogs; the soul never dwells in a dry place, drouth kills it.
O you butlers, creators of new forms, make me of no drinker a drinker, a perennity and everlastingness of sprinkling and bedewing me through these my parched and sinewy bowels.
If you should ever meet a butler, you now know how to address them. 

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