Thursday, January 31, 2013


Meaning: Cotgrave: Trembling, terrour, feare.

Usefulness: 1 (As a friend pointed out recently, particularly useful as a description of how one feels while awaiting the arrival of a hangover; dread and trembling indeed.)

Logofascination: 1 (From shaking or trembling in PIE to alarmed or scared in Latin, through various shifts through both meanings in English, and with a diversion into the astronomical, the history of this word oscillates between the shaking and the scared. I sense it has swung toward scared of late, and possibly out into foreboding, but given its history, this may not last.)

In the wild: Well, journalists seem to like it. 

Degrees: 1

Connections: n/a

Which is used in: G&P, Book the Second (Pantagruel), I: Of the original and antiquity of the great Pantagruel. Rabelais is explaining the particularly unusual astronomical situation that contributed to Pantagruel's unusual size. We've visited this passage before, but the mixture of images is too lovely to shorten:
... the sun's having tripped and stumbled a little towards the left hand, like a debtor afraid of sergeants, coming right upon him to arrest him: and the moon varied from her course above five fathom, and there was manifestly seen the motion of trepidation in the firmament of the fixed stars, called Aplanes, so that the middle Pleiade, leaving her fellows, declined towards the equinoctial, and the star named Spica left the constellation of the Virgin to withdraw herself towards the Balance, known by the name of Libra, which are cases very terrible, and matters so hard and difficult that astrologians cannot set their teeth in them; and indeed their teeth had been pretty long if they could have reached thither.
That's all Sir Thomas, too - Rabelais' astronomy stopped a few lines earlier, but Sir Thomas obviously had some ideas about how the stars worked that he wanted to get out there. 

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