• woebegone •
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Sad, sorrowful, woeful. 2. Run down, in woeful condition.
Notes: There is little to say linguistically about today's word. It is not widely used any more, which allows Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion to use it as the name of his fictional hometown, Lake Wobegon, Minnesota. Keillor seems to have doctored it a bit to make it sound more like a word from a Native American language, where most of the North American lake and river names come from.
In Play: Sometimes we need to use sad or sorrowful with our tongue somewhere in our cheek. Today's Good Word is a good substitute in those instances, "When someone took Natalie's parking space, she came in with such a woebegone expression on her face, you would have thought she had lost her best friend." Her car is such a woebegone old dinosaur, we are all surprised that she still drives it.
Word History: Today's word is an interesting example of a phrase reduced to a single word. In the 13th century people said things like, Me has/is woe bigon "Woe has beset me." As bego (bewent, begone) was slowly replaced by beset, the me was replaced by I, keeping the sense of "I am beset by woe". By the 14th century the phrase had become an idiom, I am woe begone. Finally, in the course of the 15th century, the phrase become the single word that we enjoy today.
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2 posts • Page 1 of 1
- Grand Panjandrum
- Posts: 1142
- Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 8:24 am
- Location: Stockholm, SVERIGE
Dr. Goodword wrote:...
"When someone took Natalie's parking space, she came in with such a woebegone expression on her face, you would have thought she had lost her best friend." Her car is such a woebegone old dinosaur, we are all surprised that she still drives it.
Well, if it was a large woebegone old dinosaur, I know how Natalie could have handled the problem. Remember the parking lot scene from Fried Green Tomatoes ?...
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