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CHARM

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CHARM

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:23 am

• charm •


Pronunciation: chahrm • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, Verb

Meaning: 1. A magical spell or power, an incantation that supposedly casts a magical spell on someone. 2. Any delightful quality that attracts; captivation or the ability to captivate. 3. A small attractive ornament, such as might be worn on a bracelet.

Notes: We have a substantial family surrounding today's word. Charmless is an adjective meaning "without charm". Charming is the antonym of charmless, meaning "having (much) charm (in the second sense above)". It comes with an adverb, charmingly. A charmer is someone who charms in either of the first two senses of the word. Today's Good Word itself may be used as a verb, meaning "to use a strange power of persuasion".

In Play: We have many things that we consider lucky charms: a rabbit's foot and a four-leaf clover would have to head the list. The charms on a charm bracelet were originally considered good luck amulets, but nowadays they symbolize important events we wish to remember, if they serve any purpose at all. The verbal sense of this word refers to mysterious powers of persuasion, susceptible to hyperbole: "Maisy could charm the horns off a billy-goat."

Word History: Today's Good Word is Old French charme "spell, incantation, song" with the final E docked. Old French picked up this word from Latin carmen "song, verse, enchantment", the noun from the verb canere "to sing". The original root ended on an N, but that sound "dissimilated" to R in Latin before M, since Latin didn't tolerate two nasal consonants in a row. So, the underlying Proto-Indo-European could also go on to produce French chanter "to sing", another descendant of Latin canere (without a subsequent M). We came upon the original meaning of charm through the notion of chanting to cast spells of magical powers. Finally, the same PIE word went on to become Hahn "rooster", the singer, in German, and on to hen in English. (We would be amiss if we didn't credit the charming Ellen Adams for suggesting today's magically Good Word.)
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Re: CHARM

Postby MTC » Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:45 am

Remember the intro to The Twilight Zone? "Narrator: You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!" Ever get the same feeling when you enter the Goodword site? Curious words like "cheeky" appear, press their face to the glass, but disappear before you can say, "Moon River." Then like magic "charm" is produced with cone-shaped hat, robe, and stars... Hold on! Next stop, The Twilight Zone! (Cue theme.)

P.S.
Twenty-four hours later the word magically appears. Presto!

P.P.S.
Did I say "cheeky" appeared? Let me correct myself. It still has not appeared--at least for discussion. Anybody home at Goodword?
Last edited by MTC on Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: CHARM

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:32 pm

Presto: Italian, from Late Latin praestus, quick, from Latin praest, at hand; see ghes- in Indo-European roots
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Re: CHARM

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:19 pm

Ah, the Twilight Zone, a true favorite.
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Re: CHEEKY

Postby MTC » Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:14 pm

 
I agree that mooning takes a lot of "cheek," but  after a diligent search online can find no connection between this ancient but irreverent practice and the etymology of  "cheeky."

 All authorities I  have discovered indicate "cheek" derives from O.E. cease, cece for "jaw or jawbone," or "the fleshy wall of the mouth" which by natural association with speech gave rise to the meaning "insolence." "Cheeky" is  the adjective from the same sourse.  The following exchange from Kipling's Stalky &Co (1899)  illustrates usage: "'Shut up,' said Harrison.' 'You chaps always behave as if you were jawin' us when we come to jaw you.' 'You're a lot too cheeky,' said Craye."  No authority  suggests "cheeky" descended from "the metaphorical sense of 'buttock,'" or that 'to cheek someone' meant what 'to moon someone' means today,"  at least none that I have found. 
 
As for mooning with the other "cheeks," (a slang term for buttocks,)  according to Wikipedia:  
 
Moon has been a common shape-metaphor for the buttocks in English since 1743, and the verb to moon has meant 'to expose to (moon)light' since 1601.[citation needed] As documented by McLaren, "'mooning', or exposing one's butt to shame an enemy [...] had a long pedigree in peasant culture" throughout the Middle Ages, and in many nations.[1] Formerly, "mooning" was slang for "wandering idly" and "romantically pining."[2] Although the practice of mooning was widespread by the 19th century, the Oxford English Dictionary dates the use of "moon" and "mooning" to describe the act to student slang of the 1960s, when the gesture became increasingly popular at American universities.[3]
In Chilean Spanish, the act of mooning is known as cara pálida, lit. "Paleface". 

"In 80, Flavius Josephus recorded the first known incident of mooning. Josephus recorded that in 66 AD, at around the beginning of the First Roman–Jewish War, a Roman soldier mooned Jewish pilgrims on their way to the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, causing a riot, an over-response by the Roman military, and the deaths of thousands of pilgrims."  A dark moon, indeed. If myth is accepted as evidence of mooning, history records an even  earlier instance  when  Aphrodite Kallipygos exposed her beautiful backside, an act which the Greeks demurely dubbed "anasyrma." 
 
Barring further evidence it appears Dr. G's etymological "moon rocket" may have misfired, if that isn't too cheeky...
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Re: CHARM

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:31 pm

The verb, to moon, as discussed thus far, was not known or done to my knowledge in my youth.

We did a lot of mooning, however, when we thought hopelessly and moodily about the hand of a fair maiden we wanted to hold. To moon has always meant "to be sad" or "to long for" in my experience.

The two uses of the word are worlds apart.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: CHARM

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:15 pm

A student in my school was expelled (in the late 50's)
for doing so out a school bus window, at whom I've forgotten.
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Re: CHARM

Postby MTC » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:53 am

Returning to "CHARM," "charmster" is a neologism that has not yet made it to the pages of the dictionary, though it did collect over 5000 hits on Google. Typically "charmster" refers to someone who is charming, but who may be inclined to take advantage of that charm, for example, "a fast-talking charmster."

The suffix "ster" tags along (entrains) a lot of hip, streetwise, words like "hip," "mob," and "joke" to become "hipster," "mobster," and "jokester." According to affixes.org, "ster" means "a person or thing associated with an activity or quality." and is derived from Old English -estre, -istre, etc.
(http://www.affixes.org/s/-ster.html)
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