Word of the Week 1- Snide

Whether I will be able to keep this up I don’t know, but here goes.

This week’s word is ‘snide’. As an adjective it is usually applied to comments which are derogatory or cutting. This is not surprising since it comes from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘sniðan – to cut’, where ð = th.

In the past, the word snide was also used as a noun, where it referred to counterfeit coins. It seems people liked to test that a coin was the genuine article by biting it. Dentists must have loved this.

In Anglo-Saxon, ´th´ was usually represented by a letter of the alphabet which is only used in Icelandic now – ð. I love the past tense of this verb, which was ´snað´. So I cut was ‘ic snað’.

[The ‘th’ combination in English represents two different sounds, the voiced and the unvoiced ‘th’. The word ‘then’ contains an example of the voiced ‘th’, the word ‘with’ of the unvoiced. Aren’t words fun!]


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