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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Thursday, December 07, 2006


For some reason the work skulk is not one that I have heard in common usage around the circles in which I walk – or run. I associate this word with the British guys with whom I worked in my long ago Army days in Paris, France – and BBC programs such as “Keeping up appearances”. This word carries the meaning to lie or keep in hiding, as for some evil reason or to move stealthily or slink.

To the British, skulk carries the additional meaning of malinger – this would be to pretend illness, especially in order to shirk duty or work. Oddly enough, a pack or group of foxes is also called a skulk – and a skulk of foxes is not something one would want in their hen house.

Similar in meaning to skulk are the words lurk, sneak and prowl – and all suggest avoiding observation, often because of a sinister purpose. To lurk is to lie in wait for someone or to move stealthily. Sneak emphasizes the attempt to avoid being seen or discovered; it suggests a sinister intent or the desire to avoid punishment. Prowl usually implies seeking prey or loot; it suggests quiet and watchful roaming. It was then I noticed that while similar to the others, skulk leaned toward the suggestion of cowardice or fear.

A word that sounds like skulk is skunk and while most all know about this animal and the results if one gets too close to it, a thoroughly contemptible person is also called a skunk. And while we know that a skunk (person) is a skulker, the question came to me, does the skunk skulk? From all appearances it does not, and seems to have no fear – it just roams from place to place as it well pleases and if anything or anybody messes with it, it raises a big stink. Sounds a bit like some people I have heard about.

Now we know that to stink means to emit a strong offensive smell, but also a stink can define being offensive to propriety, such as an unpleasant fuss or scandal. We well know that the skunk (animal) can accomplish this first meaning with great aplomb and thoroughness, but we also know that the skunk (person) can bring the second meaning to fruition with the same amount of skillfulness.

Then the writer wandered off and found that a stull was a timber prop in a mine, one wedged between two walls of a stope. This caused a further search to find that a stope was basically a mineshaft. Stumbling on I found that one of the meanings of the word skim was to read, study, consider or treat in a superficial or cursory manner. This begged the question in my mind as to whether or not something can be done in a cursory manner without using bad words or thoughts.

To end today’s word wanderings I stop at the word stultify – to make, or cause to appear, foolish or ridiculous. This may be what my meandering writings do to my posts, but I do so much have fun with our language and fun is a good thing. Fun is close to joy and joy is what I receive from God because He is good and desires to give us good things and joy is a good thing. ec


Blogger Kila said...

Nothing clever to add, as I'm in a bit of a fog today, but I did enjoy your word wanderings! Thanks for the smiles and ponderings!

12/07/2006 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Mr.Eddie ~~ Nice to have another wander through the dictionary with you
Always learn something new !! I am so
glad that your back pain is easing a little. We are very grateful for even
a little relief, as I know too well.
That sure was a great quick trip in your last post. Thanks for your comments and it is great to watch things grow and they taste so good.
Your time will come before too long.
Take care, Merle.

12/07/2006 09:08:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

kila - My curiousity and fascination with words usually follows the odd or seldom used ones - the which I bend to suit my silly purposes. :)

merle - Word meandering is a good thing - keeps me out of trouble in other areas. Visit to the back doc tomorrow, hopefully he can tell me something then. ec

12/07/2006 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger Brenda said...

I always feel so bright after I've come by to visit you!

12/07/2006 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

brenda - Thanks so much - you brightened my day through your post today as well. ec

12/07/2006 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger Granny said...

I would hope a skunk never learns to skulk. I prefer to have plenty of warning.

Glad to hear you're feeling a little better.

12/08/2006 01:14:00 AM  
Blogger Yours Truly said...

What a nice trail through a small section of the "s" in the dictionary. Language is such a treasure and a wealth to explore! It did not have stultifying effect on me!

12/08/2006 03:09:00 AM  
Blogger mreddie said...

granny - So true, if a skunk was sneaky as well as stinky it would really be bad.

yours truly - If you think that I enjoy acting silly with words - you would be right. :) ec

12/08/2006 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

My eyesight (or my mind) must be failing. When I first saw the heading I read “skunk.”

12/09/2006 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger mreddie said...

SSN - I know the feeling, I've done that sort of thing myself on occasion. ec

12/10/2006 09:51:00 AM  

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