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COPSE

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COPSE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:36 pm

• copse •

Pronunciation: kahps • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A small grove of wild trees, a woodsy area, a thicket, an uncultivated coppice.

Notes: With the aggressive building that has been taking place in the US over the past decade, in many areas forests are becoming copses, making today's Good Word too useful to lose. It is a beautiful word (despite sounding like the plural of cop), though you couldn't say the same for its plural: copses. I know you confuse this word all the time with coppice, which is equally beautiful. The difference is that a coppice is cultivated on someone's estate, often for the purpose of cutting it for firewood and such.

In Play: One of the advantages of bucolic living is the availability of copses, a natural playground for kids: "The children loved to play in a little copse behind the house all summer." However, be careful not to confuse your copses with your coppices: "It isn't so much a copse as a coppice since we periodically harvest firewood from it and, at Christmastide, holly and mistletoe."

Word History: Today's Good Word descended from Middle English copys, from Old French copeiz "thicket for cutting", based on the verb coper, couper, "to cut". Old French inherited the word from the presumable Vulgar Latin verb colpare (no written example has been found), from Late Latin colpus "a blow". In Classical Latin the word was colaphus, borrowed from Greek kolaphos. (Sue Gillmor of Portland in the state of Maine, which is filled not only with copses but large preserved forestlands, thought to share this lovely word with us.)
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Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:53 pm

I just learned how to pronounce copse. Having known the word most of my life, but never having heard anyone say it, I naturally went for the long o instead of the "ah" sound. In Texas we call it a mot or motte, pronounced "maht". It is from the Spanish.

A question: There is a County in Texas called Matagorda. The official source is the Spanish phrase that means big grove or thicket. Some etymologists think it was originally Spanish for massacre (big murder). Is anyone an authority on this?
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:02 pm

Probably only Doc can answer that, tho there are probably
others with more Spanish than I have.


There is a copse in the backyard of my property. We all
call it the "willowacks".
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:38 pm

Matar - to kill. Gordo - fat. Thus it must mean "Kill the fat!"
pl
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:46 pm

Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers should grab the
term quickly.
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Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Feb 18, 2012 4:20 am

Perry Lassiter,
Gordo and Gorda also mean "large" in Spanish. Hence Matagorda could mean "big kill", hence massacre. I would be glad to hear from an authority. I just speak a little Tex-Mex.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Feb 18, 2012 4:13 pm

I was joking of course. Philip is correct.
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