Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wonderful Words

So, I was in the kitchen this morning, putting together a pot of carne guisada to have for Sunday dinner, and the jalapeno I was cutting up for it seemed to be particularly seedy. This is an important observation when it comes to jalapenos, because the vast majority of their heat happens to be in their seeds.

Then it occurred to me to wonder where, when and why the word seedy came to mean disreputable, disheveled and possibly dishonest. A pepper having many seeds--or any other fruit with lots of seeds--didn't seem to be the proper source.

Then I remembered when I had a vegetable garden years ago, and how if I wasn't careful, (especially in the heat of a Central Texas spring) the lettuce and carrots would "go to seed."

They would send out these lanky, weedy-looking seed shoots, the rest of the plant would take on a bedraggled, shop-worn (or maybe sun-and-heat-worn) appearance, and the leaves (for lettuce) or roots (for carrots) would become bitter. I never did get a decent carrot out of that garden. And I had to step lively--and plant the lettuce practically in January--to get some nice salad greens.

Seedy, meaning bedraggled and disreputable, has been around long enough that it likely came from original English-from-England, but lettuce goes to seed there too. (Just not as fast.) That has to be the original source of the meaning. Aren't words interesting?

Well, they are to me, anyway.

Haven't been walking at the beach lately. The fella went fishing with a friend on one of the jetties yesterday, though, and they each caught a fish. The fish swam up into the rocks, and they had to climb down a little to pull them out, but they caught them. We went over to Mike's house to eat them, because he volunteered to cook them up, and they were really, really good. (One of the fishes was big enough for two.) I do like fresh fish.

1 comment:

AG said...

I have a fun new word for you: defenstrate.

It means "to throw out the window." I saw it in a research review book, the author was talking about how teachers had defenstrated pieces of the curriculum.

I am told that it comes from the french, and refers to what they would do with the old king after a coup.