Words I Love: crooked

crooked – adjective

  1. bent, curved, twisted out of shape.
  2. dishonest, illegal

Origins: From the Middle English ‘crook’ (noun a hooked staff belonging to a shepherd or verb to bend), or possibly from the Old Norse krókóttr, which means something along the lines of ‘cunning’.

I’ve mentioned ‘crooked’ a lot in my Words I Love posts and thought I would go with my past-self and make ‘crooked’ my next word. A lot of my associations with this particular word probably come from the crooked man nursery rhyme.

There was a crooked man,
and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence
upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat,
which caught a crooked mouse,
and they all lived together
in a little crooked house.

I heard and read it so much as a child that it’s gotten itself stuck in my brain and may never leave. It’s been the starting point for horror films and antagonists in games, and books (I am looking at you, The Book of Lost Things, which is a book everyone should read especially if they love fairy tales) for years, and I completely understand why.

It’s such a wonderful (if creepy) image, a crooked man.

Weirdly, my imaginings don’t give me a one-way ticket to Creepyville Towers; when I see the word ‘crooked’, my mind leaps straight to old and rickety, all twisted limbs and slow walking, it takes me somewhere eccentric rather than somewhere dangerous. Still cunning but not necessarily evil.

Crooked is elderly but still full of wit, where the cunning comes from being underestimated and knowing about it. Crooked brings to mind Baba Yaga, Rumpelstiltskin, Moana’s grandmother (in the most wonderful way possible), Madam Mim (who wasn’t really bad, who I adore). When I am old and decrepit, I hope that I can be one of those crooked little crones that you might find in a fairy tale. Not an evil one, obviously, but the kind that looks like they have a secret (and does indeed have one), and the kind that does inexplicable things for what seems like no reason but actually has a plan.

Crooked brings to mind ramshackle buildings and shanty towns, fairy tale locations, leaning towers and dark woods with twisting branches. Crooked is a little bit magic, a little bit dark, and a little bit whimsical.

Is it any wonder that I love and use it so much?

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Words I Love: phillumenist

phillumenist – noun

  1. a person who engages in phillumeny; a person who collects match-related items, like matchbox labels, matchboxes, matchbooks, or matchbook covers.

Origins: from the Greek phil- meaning loving and the Latin ‘lumen’ meaning light, the term has only been in existence since 1943 by Marjorie S. Evans, a British collector.

Phillumenist and phillumeny are such lovely sounding words. The fact that they exist is great and makes me want to look up terms for people who collect other things to see if they exist too and what they might be. These sound like terms you would see in a fantasy novel (I forget whether there are clairvoyants in The Bone Season that use matches for their craft, but I can well imagine that they are called phillumenists if there are).

I’ve discovered that I love words which put me in mind of little elderly people with crooked fingers and microscopic interests in things that the younger generation might find dull or silly. As I mentioned in my last Words I Love post, I love words that poke and prod at my imagination (and put me in mind of crooked people, maybe crooked should be my next word, since I’ve used it so much across these posts). Sure, technically all words do this. Words are our main method of communication and communication relies on our minds being able to make more from the sounds we thrust at each other with our mouths…

That took a weird turn. Sorry about that. But you get what I mean, right?

Anywho, it’s a lovely word. A lovely, lovely word.

The Mime Order – Advanced Preview

If you’re following my Twitter and it did not get lost in your beneath all of the inevitable post-World Cup tweets, you will have seen that I was fortunate enough to receive an early sampler of the sequel to Samantha Shannon’s bestseller The Bone Season, intriguingly named The Mime Order – a title which I am dying to discover the meaning of. I have concluded, upon reading said sampler, that January 2015 is too far away. I need that book. 

As you may have seen, the publication date was originally a more close and inviting October but to enable the production of the best book possible, it has been moved back to allow more time for the writing and editing stages. While sad, it promises to be a beautiful January.

If you want to learn more about voyant politics in SciLo, The Mime Order (at least the small portion that I have read) generously complies. I definitely have high hopes for the rest of the novel and am itching to know more about the different Mime-Lords and Mime-Queens – I have a very strong case of grabby hands.

Paige and the rest of the Seven Seals return on top form, and we are introduced to a host of new and intriguing characters. (Insert more grabby hands here.) I can’t wait to get to know them come January.

Even the sampler packs a punch with a twist which made me squeak – out loud – on a commuter train. I cannot imagine what excitement awaits but I am most definitely looking forward to it.

I am completely addicted to this series and intend to be for the duration and beyond. If you haven’t read The Bone Season, do so. Right now. If you have, you definitely need to pick up The Mime Order  when it is released in January. It is a book that already demands to be read.