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COUTH

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COUTH

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:59 pm

• couth •

Pronunciation: kuth • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Suave, sophisticated, cultured, well-mannered, refined in manner and manners.

Notes: By now you know that we love to expose false orphan negatives, negative words that have no positive counterpart (inept, impeccable, nonplussed). Today's positive word has always been around, but it dropped out of sight (and sound) for a century or two (see Word History). The adverb is couthly and the word itself is often used as a noun, though we see no reason not to say couthness.

In Play: To American ears, today's word still has humorous overtones: "No, I wouldn't say that it was couth to ask Noreen's sister out when you brought Noreen home from the concert." But more and more you hear it in perfectly serious contexts: "Loretta, I thought it very couth of you to wear the sweater your mother knitted for you to her birthday party."

Word History: Today's Good Word started out as an independent word, became a negative orphan, then was revived by 'back derivation' (removing the un-) fairly recently. It was originally the past participle of can, which in Old and Middle English meant "know" when used as an independent verb (not the auxiliary can : could). Kith, as in 'kith and kin', is a variant of couth and like today's word originally meant "(those) known". In the 16th-18th centuries the meaning of uncouth changed to what it is today and couth was left behind. Then, at the end of the 19th century, writers began to resurrect couth as a word with the opposite meaning of uncouth, first facetiously but more recently quite seriously. (Today we are grateful for the very couth decision on the part of Paul Rowland of Wallasey, England, to submit this Good Word for our series.)
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Postby Slava » Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:51 pm

For sooth, thou art couth!

Even if my Firefox spell check wisheth not to accept the word.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:08 pm

By Jove, that's couthless to tack a second word of the day to a former word, tho I suspect merely a glitch.
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Postby Slava » Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:16 pm

Nay, my good fellow, I believeth we should ever and anon make every effort to include previous words. As, I must say, it seemeth thou hast in thy use of glitch.
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Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:08 am

Even us rednecks use the word couth. Since rednecks don't know anything about prefixes nor parts of speech we use it as a noun and often say, "Phinephus ain't got no couth." In my redneck fiction I use this construction frequently. Redneck grammar and vocabulary, not to mention pronunciations just come natcherly.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:43 pm

By Jove, Jr-When I posted above, there was another Good Word inserted just above it. It has disappeared along with the post you mentioned on abecedary. Have we a ghost, or mely a gremlin?
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Postby Slava » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:04 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:By Jove, Jr-When I posted above, there was another Good Word inserted just above it. It has disappeared along with the post you mentioned on abecedary. Have we a ghost, or mely a gremlin?
The site recently moved to the cloud. I expect those posts were made during the storm, and were tossed about and lost as a result.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:58 pm

Stormy weather.
Just can't get our poor site together.
Keeps dropping all the time,
Keeps dropping all the time...
#elisions
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:03 pm

:lol:
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Postby misterdoe » Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:13 pm

Philip Hudson wrote:Even us rednecks use the word couth. Since rednecks don't know anything about prefixes nor parts of speech we use it as a noun and often say, "Phinephus ain't got no couth."


I was gonna mention the use of "[ain't] got [no] couth" if it hadn't been mentioned already. And I seem to recall a newspaper columnist here in the NYC area in the 80s or 90s who seemed to like the phrase "uncouth youth." Stanley the Grouch, maybe... :?
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