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Maree’s musings

November 21, 2018 November 2018 No Comments


While preparing to tackle this month’s musings, I came across a couple of words which set off an idea dribble that became a torrent. A recent royal visit resulted in the charming expression ‘Markle sparkle’ being bandied about and that little ‘–le’ suffix got me thinking. It’s as common as muck, as the saying goes; but why? Time to investigate …

Sparkle (above) sets a spark sparkling. 

Dribble is spittle dripping and couple implies togetherness, like double, but not single or triple. Twinkle (as in star) has the light twinkling. I don’t want to dazzle you with my (ahem!) brilliance, baffle you with lists or bore you with babble, but it’s plain that the ‘–le’ creates action; often charmingly little to boot, like nestle, for example. There’s bumble which we met before with the bee! A stumble or a fumble may lead to a mumble or a grumble, although grizzling will do you no good.

Apparently Harry’s nickname for his lovely bride is ‘Meggle’: that diminutive charm also comes to the fore for the devoted pair; as in cuddle, nuzzle, snuggle, fondle, giggle, tickle and prickle (maybe not!). Canoodle – almost certainly. 

We all know what that’s about, but it was such a funny-looking word that I did some investigating into the mystery shrouding its origin. The Germans, maybe not known for this charming behaviour, did however have a word for it – knuddeln. Folklore might be a better bet. Apparently the use of two-person canoes by young Edwardian sweethearts was a cunning plot to escape the presence of a chaperon; allowing for a bit of private hanky-panky. A somewhat priceless heading in the 1998 New York Times magazine article (about such goings-on) screamed ‘Paddle Your Own Canoodle’. Says it all, really.

There were a few more I puzzled (incidentally, from the word pose which means confused thinking!) over. Bamboozle for one: apparently the dour Scots used to delight in bombazing others; resulting in greater confusion than the more polite modern version. Embezzle, which looks very Middle Eastern, is actually from a French word for ‘causing to disappear’. The first time it was connected to financial fraud was way back in the sixteenth century. Times haven’t changed much, then.

Doddle is a less common one, despite meaning a piece of colloquial cake. It originates from America, but nobody knows who fangled it first. Maybe, like it, we could have a doozle – just to downsize ‘a real doozy’, which strangely can mean a Bad Thing or a good one; but it’s always a biggie in either case.

Although there are hundreds of –le words; it’s likely to be good for your brain and good fun to invent some, as I just did. Gristle is a bit of gristy steak, so perhaps we could adopt grisle – as in grisly – for startling the neighbours while hassling them at Hallowe’en. And an alternative to the aforementioned cuddle, canoodle and a gentle snuggle – snoggle, maybe?

Finally, Google; which turned 20 years old in September. I wondered what would happen if you Googled ‘google’, so I tried. And yes; that little suffix that could worked here too, turning a googol, which is a Very Large number, into an equally enormous search. It’s a miracle! 

Well, that’s enough scribble from your humble muse for this article; time for me to toddle off. Take care and keep out of trouble!

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