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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Oct 09, 2013 11:02 pm

• urchin •

Pronunciation: êr-chin • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A brat, a scamp, a guttersnipe, a mischievous youngster. 2. A raggedly dressed child. 3. A sea hedgehog.

Notes: Generally speaking, urchin is a lexical orphan, though an appropriately derived adjective urchinly has been tried in the past. Urchiness "female urchin" has been used at least once, but since abandoned for good reason. Urchinness "the quality of urchins" is permitted by English grammar, but few have had the nerve to use it. It has been used only on the Web so far as we know.

In Play: The first sense of urchin is "brat", a mischievous youngster: "The little urchins at my daughter Juanita's birthday party thought my swag lamp was a piñata and beat it to smithereens." The second sense is a dirty child, perhaps in raggedy clothing. An expectable response from any mother at seeing her children come in the house dirty would be, "How did you little urchins get so filthy?"

Word History: In Middle English today's Good Word was urchone "hedgehog" from Old French herichon (Modern French hérisson). Classical Latin ericius "hedgehog" came to be herichon in Old French from unattested Vulgar (Street) Latin erecio(n), derived from Classical Latin ericius + -on, a diminutive suffix. Horror comes from Latin horrere "to bristle or tremble with fear", and Latin hirsutus "rough, shaggy, bristly" was borrowed as English hirsute "hairy". Both Latin words were derived from the same PIE root as ericius. Hircine "pertaining to goats" is another word from the same source, borrowed from Latin hircinus, an adjective based on hircus "billy goat", probably because goats are shaggy. (We thank Rob Towart now for recommending today's prickly Good Word.)
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Re: Urchin

Postby MTC » Thu Oct 10, 2013 12:38 am

If you will recall, Alice played croquet with urchins (hedgehogs.)

Alice thought she had never seen such a curious croquet-ground in her life; it was all ridges and furrows; the balls were live hedgehogs, the mallets live flamingoes, and the soldiers had to double themselves up and to stand on their hands and feet, to make the arches.

Alice in Wonderland, Chapter VIII, The Queen’s Croquet-Ground
http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/carroll ... pter8.html

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Re: Urchin

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:33 am

I always think of Oliver Twist. Probably since hedgehogs
are not part of this 'neck of the woods'.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----

Perry Lassiter
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Re: Urchin

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:47 pm

My first reference is to Ragged and perhaps disreputable children. I think of them roaming the streets like Sherlock Holmes group of irregulars.

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Re: Urchin

Postby Slava » Thu Oct 10, 2013 6:21 pm

I'll go along here with first thoughts being of scruffy street kids.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.

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