• godwottery •
Pronunciation: gahd-wah-dêr-ee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (No plural)
Meaning: 1. A highly romantic, exaggeratedly elaborate garden, usually comprised of bizarrely incompatible plants and objects. 2. A love or affection for such gardens. 3. Effected, archaic language.
Notes: Today's Good Word is a sort of marginal piece of godwottery (3) itself. It comes as no surprise that such an eccentric has no direct relations—not even a plural. It is a fish out of current conversational waters so, if we don't return it to its natural habitat, it will soon no longer be with us.
In Play: You are always safe using this word in reference to gardens: "Rose Bush's backyard is a godwottery of every kind of plant crawling over gnomes, flamingos, gates without fences, and several sets of garden furniture." As for language, I still consider it wise to add a qualifier to make the reference to language clear: "Noah Zarq speaks such verbal godwottery only a Shakespearean scholar can understand him."
Word History: Today's word originated as a phrase from the line, ‘A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!’ in T. E. Brown's poem My Garden (1876). Wot is a variant of the verb wit, from Old English witan "to know", so the phrase means "God knows", which, obviously, has nothing to do with gardening. Both our words wit and wisdom are paronyms of this verb. It is a distant cousin of German wissen "know", Polish wiedziec "to know", and Russian vesti "news". (Today's Good Word is another contribution by someone who, like us, delights in lexical godwottery—Tim Ward.)
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