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Seeds: Locutions

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 9th, 2012

Bedtime had passed some time ago, but the game was not over. The game had no winner or loser and there was no end. Really, it wasn’t so much a game, but a form of entertainment or amusement. It was pleasure, leisure and fun.

In the same moment, however, the dictionary/thesaurus game, entertainment or amusement, like it usually does, brought attention to language, its beauty and its passage through time. It demonstrated proper usage, revealing powerful sentiments and the correct descriptions. It recalled memories of a dated English teacher scrawling away on the chalkboard in a white, careful cursive and grammar books that were the perfect weight for a doorstop. It related some words to base tongues and others to undocumented spontaneous creation. Books of late were discussed and their true meanings brought forth into clear understanding.

The highlight of this round was the idea to compare antonyms, specifically verbs. The first one became the only one; its meanings so simple yet so thoroughly redefined again and again.

Hit, verb, origin Late English “hittan” meaning in the sense to “come upon, find;” Old Norse “hitta” meaning “to come upon, meet with” of unknown origin.

•She hit her child. STRIKE, slap, smack, spank, cuff, punch, thump, swat; beat, thrash, batter, pound, pummel, box someone’s ears; whip, flog, cane; informal wack, wallop, bash, bop, clout, clip, clobber, sock, swipe, crown, beat the living daylights out of, knock someone around, belt, tan, lay into, let someone have it, deck, floor, slug; literary smite.

This was just the beginning. The list continued, connecting words also meaning to crash into, to reach and to occur to. Then came the noun – a blow and a success – before a list of phrases: hit back, hit hard, hit home, hit it off, hit on/upon, the latter synonymous with flirt.

What an immense collection of words meaning the same awful thing, aside from having the intended effect, get on well and discover. Fifty words meaning to “bring one’s hand or a tool or weapon into contact with (someone or something) quickly and forcefully” or “to cause harm or distress to.” How the same act occupies so many syllables, and such acts of brutality.

In opposition of wack, wallop and beat the living daylights out of, hug was consulted. It was predicted there would be far less synonym selection because humans choose to keep violence, insulting superior options like peace.

Hug, verb, origin mid sixteenth century: probably of Scandinavian origin and related to Norwegian “hugga” meaning to “comfort or console.”

•They hugged each other. EMBRACE, cuddle, squeeze, clasp, clutch, cradle, cling to, hold close, hold tight, take/fold someone in one’s arms, claps someone to one’s bosom.

Eleven total words and phrases meaning to squeeze someone tightly in one’s arms, typically to express affection, justified the wager and there was only one word to describe the feeling that followed into the Land of Nod where the bed was “hittan” and the last “hugga” was felt before the coming dawn: woebegone.

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