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dregs/dross

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dregs/dross

Postby sardith » Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:44 pm

I have a question:

Though both of these words are mostly the same, I have wondered what difference there is, based on the fact that dregs sink and dross rises-if that makes sense to anyone else...

Thanks for any thoughts,
Sardith :)


"It is our best work that God wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think he must prefer quality to quantity." ~George MacDonald, Scottish author, poet and Christian minister, (1824-1905)~

dregs: (Noun)

1. The remnants of a liquid left in a container, together with any sediment or grounds.
2. The most worthless part or parts of something.

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“I always looked to about thirty as the barrier of any real or fierce delight in the passions, and determined to work them out in the younger ore and better veins of the mine /and I flatter myself (perhaps) that I have pretty well done so /and now the dross is coming.” ~Lord Byron, English Romantic poet and satirist, (1788-1824)~

dross: (Noun)

1. Something regarded as worthless; rubbish.
2. Foreign matter, dregs, or mineral waste, in particular scum formed on the surface of molten metal.
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Nov 10, 2011 3:25 pm

Acc to Online Etymological Dictionary, BOTH come from PIE dher -- to make muddy! Dross comes from smelting, whereas dregs come through gardening.
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dregs/dross

Postby sardith » Thu Nov 10, 2011 3:32 pm

Oh, I thought the dregs came from making wine. 8)
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
~Mark Twain, [pen name for Samuel Clemens], American author and humorist, (1835-1910)~
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Re: dregs/dross

Postby Slava » Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:35 pm

sardith wrote:Oh, I thought the dregs came from making wine. 8)
Aye, that they do, in a way. It's usually used to refer to the sediment that settles down after the wine has been made. It can also refer to the liquid that remains after a glass has been drained. That's why it's a bad thing to be settling for dregs; you're either an alcoholic or so desperately poor that you'll accept just about anything.

Dregs and dross may have a PIE common root, but they are quite different, as you pointed out. Dregs go down and dross rises.

I find it interesting to note that one is a plural and the other a singular. The other garbage words I know for these concepts follow the same pattern. Lees for wine, and slag for metals.

Dregs also seem to be an integral ingredient in the making of what they settle out of. Dross is actual impurities that have nothing to do with the metal itself.

The meanings of these words may be becoming blended, but I can assure you, I'll never speak of the dross of the coffee or society.

Then again, if ironically speaking of the "elite," perhaps dross would be appropriate?
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dregs/dross

Postby sardith » Fri Nov 11, 2011 2:07 pm

Like you usually do, Slava, you've broken it down for me succinctly. Some things were bugging me, but you articulated.

Thanks,
Sardith :D
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