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hurrying into the little copse

A discussion of word histories and origins.

hurrying into the little copse

Postby eberntson » Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:31 pm

So there I am lounging on my porch bedecked with all my potted trees & house plants, reading Pride & Prejudice for the second time in my life (someone has said a good book is best read during youth, middle age, and in old age). There I sit on my little wild wooded porch, being the avid gardener, woodland wanderer and expatriate Mainer that I is’, where the word “copse” peaks my interest. However, after I finish the book I decide to watch a movie version, but all the versions to fall short, but then I manage to get the British mini-series with Colon Firth. So I get to the “copse” scene, and they user the definition of the word. Anyway, I will stop beating around the bush, and ask what is the history of this word.

Any myths around it? I imagine in the bowls of English a nymph or of fairy should be involved. I assume it is borrowed; it seems like a word with French roots. The word seems strangely familiar, but that may be because it reminds me of “corpse”. I’ll cut my comments off here…
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Re: hurrying into the little copse

Postby malachai » Fri Aug 11, 2006 2:06 pm

the fairyless definition from etymonline.com:

contraction of coppice, from O.Fr. coupeiz "a cut-over forest," from L.L. *colpaticium "having the quality of being cut," from *colpare "to cut, strike," from L.L. colpus "a blow"

colpus also gives us "coup" and "cope".
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Re: hurrying into the little copse

Postby Bailey » Fri Aug 11, 2006 3:17 pm

malachai wrote:the fairyless definition from etymonline.com:

contraction of coppice, from O.Fr. coupeiz "a cut-over forest," from L.L. *colpaticium "having the quality of being cut," from *colpare "to cut, strike," from L.L. colpus "a blow"

colpus also gives us "coup" and "cope".

no dryads gamboling, no corpses, just the fax, man.
Dictionary
copse (kŏps)
n.
A thicket of small trees or shrubs; a coppice.

[Middle English copys, from Old French copeiz, thicket for cutting, from coper, couper, to cut. See cope1.]
see also wikipedia offering
So there can be no gamboling as it is a thicket rather than a small secluded clearing as I had always thought, from the context.

mark wrong-as-usual Bailey

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Postby gailr » Fri Aug 11, 2006 4:00 pm

Interesting wiki link, Bailey. Now I know another term for the "pruning" done to the trees lining the sidewalk at my junior high school: coppicing. Of course, it was done annually there, five feet from the ground, to clear the spindly new growth from the low power lines, and it looked ridiculous.

eberntson: another interesting word. You're generally pretty quiet there on that porch, but you have a knack for sparking interesting discussions. Don't let the dictionary keep you from gamboling/gambling in your copse if you wish.

-gailr :)
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gamboling aplenty

Postby eberntson » Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:41 pm

gailr-

Have no fear I am an out & about fellow. Between work, gardening, fine furniture making classes, parties, cooking, family, friends, dinners, music & drinks, etc the few moments of peace I take are precious.

I don't even look up that many words just the ones I can remember and are especially interesting or vexing. No one would ever accuse me of being a bookworm, but wouldn’t that be great to have that much time & disinterest in everything else. Huh, I have been known to drop out of life for a week or so I can finish a large novel. But it is the exception & not the rule.


I do love a good gambol in the copse when I'm in Maine or skulking around Lexington, Mass. Elizabeth in P&P is always gamboling in the country side, the the mini series she is always running from hedge row to hedge row.

Nothing like a good question, even if it is nonsense to get folks to look at things a different way.

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Fear less, hope more;
eat less, chew more;
whine less, breathe more;
talk less, say more,
and all good things will be yours.
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