Proot

For the topic of this blog post, I’ve picked a word that has a very limited use. But it does allow me to use a picture of an adorable-looking donkey.

donkeyProot is a word said to donkeys (or mules) to encourage them to move faster. Its origin is unknown. It could be related to the word proo, which is used to call cows and command horses. My understanding is that proo is imitative of a sound the animals naturally respond to.

The first recorded use is found in Robert Louis Stevenson’s account of his solo hiking trip through part of France. Modestine was the donkey who carried Stevenson’s belongings.

“‘Proot!’ seemed to have lost its virtue. I prooted like a lion, I prooted mellifluously like a sucking-dove; but Modestine would be neither softened nor intimidated.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson, Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes, 1879.


Sources:

‘Allowed’ and ‘aloud’

Allowed and aloud are homophones. It’s a common mistake to use these two in place of each other. (Although I suspect some incorrect uses are because of predictive text functions.) Aloud can be substituted for ‘out loud’; allowed is the past tense of the verb allow.

musicAloud

  • audibly

Allow

  • to permit
  • to set aside
  • to acknowledge or admit

My tip: aloud is audible; allowed is permitted.


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)

 

Jirble

spilt-milkHere’s a word for the next time you spill your hot or cold beverage of choice: jirble.

Jirble means ‘to spill by shaking or unsteady movement of the container’ or ‘to pour out unsteadily’ – usually due to carelessness. It is a Scottish word that is supposed to be imitative of the sound that is often made when liquids are jirbled.

“I jirbled the milk while I was speaking.”

The first use that the OED lists is from 1760 and the latest example given is from 1827. It would be a real shame if jirble didn’t make it into a few pieces of contemporary writing…


Sources:

  • Dictionary of the Scots Language Online
  • Oxford English Dictionary Online
  • Pixabay (image)

‘Foreword’ and ‘forward’

Foreword and forward are often listed as homophones, but whether this is true for your own speech probably depends on regional variations. I pronounce them differently, but I believe that when spoken in some other (particularly American) accents they sound the same.

Foreword

  • an introductory statement to a book

Forward

  • directed, travelling or moving aheadforward-arrow
  • at, in, near or towards the front
  • onward in order to make progress
  • bold, disrespectful or overfamiliar
  • well developed or advanced
  • of or relating to the future or favouring change
  • an attacking player in various sports
  • towards or at a place ahead or in advance
  • to send on to a destination
  • to advance or promote

My tip: a foreword is composed using words.


Sources:

  • Collins English Dictionary, 2009
  • Oxford Dictionaries Online
  • Pixabay (image)