• wrangle •
Pronunciation: ræng-gêl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verbs
Meaning: 1. To quarrel persistently, to bicker contentiously without end. 2. (Western US) To herd (cattle or horses).
Notes: Today we having another sale at alphaDictionary: two words for the price of one (see Word History). Both of today's words share the same spelling pitfall: don't forget they both begin with a W. Both words share an identical family. A wrangler is someone who bickers a lot or whose profession is herding cows or horses. Wrangling is the avocation of one such wrangler, the vocation of the other.
In Play: We shouldn't confuse wrangling with debating, a genuine form of argument: "While congress wrangles about the small issues, the larger ones go unattended." The critical feature of wrangling that distinguishes it from debating is that it must go on for a long time with no end in sight: "They've been wrangling over the prenuptial agreement for five years now." The other type of wrangling is simple: "Getting the Bickertons to attend marriage counseling is like wrangling cats."
Word History: Today's Good Word is one that came with a Fickle N. It goes back to a Proto-Indo-European root that meant "to turn, to twist". So with the N, we get wring, wrong (not straight but twisted) and wrangle. Without it, this word emerged in English as writhe, wrist, wrestle and wrath. English hit the mother load when it plundered this PIE root throughout its long journey to Modern English. (We never have to wrangle with Jeremy Busch over submission of such fascinating expressions as today's Good Word.)
Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.
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I always had the impression that the second sense involved physically wrestling the cows, like throwing them down for branding. Then by extension the word might apply to to vocation in general. You western folks, do you hear it used that way, or am I coming from the fickle n, wrestling?
- Perry Lassiter
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