articulate - adjective
1. having parts connected by joints, as in "articulated"
2. made up of distinct words joined together in such a way as to convey meaning
3. able to express oneself clearly and distinctly
4. well formulated, clearly presented

Monday, August 29, 2011

Recent Wonderings...

A large percentage of my musings end in question marks.  Don’t yours?  Tell me this is normal!

Consequently, I often find myself wondering the oddest things.

Recent wonderings include the following:
  • Why is the word “egret” (a large white bird) found in the word “regret” (to rue or feel sorry about)? 
  • Which is really right – flier or flyer?  Does it matter?
  • Why is the word “neigh” in “neighbor”?
  • And -- probably spawned in the wake of Hurricane Irene’s devastation -- is it possible to wreak anything besides havoc?  What if you wanted to wreak something positive, like organization or joy?  Would it still be wreaking?
Being a compulsive researcher – which I blame on my parents’ purchase of a set of encyclopedias when I was young and impressionable – I am often compelled to internet pursuits by questions like these.  These are some of the answers I’ve found:
  • British people prefer “flyer” for both the brochure and what flies.  Americans prefer “flier” for both.  According to this internet distinction, I am British.  Good to know.  Maybe this explains why my 15yo son sounds like Sean Connery when quoting most movies.
Oh, and yes, it matters whether you use “flier” or “flyer.”  At least if you believe the founts of wisdom on the college web sites, it does.  As an American (despite what the internet and my son's accent would have me to believe), I need to stick with the "i” and not the “y” unless I am using a trademarked name like “Radio Flyer.”
  • “Neigh” in “neighbor” has no relation to the sound a horse makes.  It comes from the root of “nigh,” meaning “near,” which is where your neighbor lives.  Near you.  Works for me!
  • And “wreak” is an ancient English word with the same root as “wreck.”  In that light, I believe you’d have to choose some other verb for dispensing happiness, orderliness, or any other positive results.
But I still have no idea why “egret” is found in “regret.”  Do you?


  1. regret (v.) Look up regret at
    "to remember with distress or longing," c.1300, from O.Fr. regreter "long after, bewail, lament someone's death," from re-, intensive prefix + -greter, possibly from Frankish (cf. O.E. grætan "to weep;" O.N. grata "to weep, groan"), from P.Gmc. *gretan "weep." Replaced O.E. ofþyncan, from of- "off, away," here denoting opposition + þyncan "seem, seem fit" (as in methinks). The noun is first recorded 1530s.

    egret Look up egret at
    mid-14c., from O.Fr. aigrette, from O.Prov. aigreta, dim. of aigron "heron," perhaps of Germanic origin (cf. O.H.G. heigaro; see heron).

    From the Online Etymologoy Dictionary :)

  2. So basically the two words are spelled almost the same but they have no relationship with each other at all.


    I like a friend's comment from my same posting on another site:

    "Would it not be correct to say that when an egret lays a egg and that egg hatches, the egret has regret the nest?"


  3. I recently put together a flier/flyer for our organization. I sent it out referring to it as a "flyer". Then I noticed somewhere else that it should be spelled "flier", so I felt rather unprofessional for sending it out that way. Now I know I wasn't entirely wrong! Having gone to school in Nigeria (a former British colony) I have the occasional word I spell in the British fashion. Your post reassured me that I didn't make a big mistake after all!