foetid

It may sound celebrated, but it’s really smellebrated. Another way of saying it reminds us of those bodily appendages that smell more often than the nose runs. Just as reek rises from rotting refuse, this word has ascenders but no descenders. It begins with the “feh” that may be the whole reaction to its object, and in this spelling it gains the o that is reminiscent of a moue of a displeasured mouth or some action of a similar ring-shaped muscle. On the other hand, the added letter may remind cooks of asafoetida – which is not to say that it gains savoury notes as a result. But to be or not to be o? The original Latin root had no digraph, just a long e. That intrusive o, o, o, present in English from the beginning (though sometimes an intrusive a was present instead, but that is really too refined-looking for this stinker), clearly arose from faulty recall – as a faulty reek-hole.

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One response to “foetid

  1. Pingback: noisome | Sesquiotica

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