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Muckle

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Muckle

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Sep 19, 2013 11:21 pm

• muckle •


Pronunciation: mê-kêl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, Adverb

Meaning: (Scots English) 1. Much, many. 2. Large, great.

Notes: Usage of today's word tapered off over the course of the 20th Century even in its last stronghold, Scotland, always a land of fascinating words. An older variant of this word is mickle. In The Eve of St. Agnes (xiv) Keats pleads, "Let me laugh awhile, I've mickle time to grieve." Most Scots today would probably prefer using muckle, as did Frank Kippax as recently as 1992 in The Butcher's Bill: "The Home Guard barged in and waved a muckle pistol in his face."

In Play: Today our word is heard mostly in the idiom, "Many a mickle maks a muckle," meaning roughly "a many littles make a lot," an encouragement to save for a rainy day. This idiomatic (unpredictable) phrase seems contradictory and probably is a corruption of "Many a little maks a muckle," suggesting the Scots themselves are letting this quaintly old fashioned word slip away. Still and again, J. D. Salinger wrote in Catcher in the Rye (1951), Chapter 11, that Jane Gallagher "was sort of muckle-mouthed", because when she talked excitedly "her mouth sort of went in about fifty directions".

Word History: The origin of today's word is a prominent root meg- "great, large" found in almost every Indo-European language in some form. It came to Old English as mikel and much in English, but we find it in Norwegian and Danish meget "very (much)" and Swedish mycken "much", as well. The ancient Greek cognate is megas "great", borrowed in all the English words beginning with mega, such as megastar, megaton, and megabyte. It also underlies megalomania "delusions of wealth and power". In Armenian it became mec "great" and in Albanian, madh "great". Sanskrit maha "great" is used in several words borrowed into English, including mahatma "great spirit" as in Mahatma Gandhi, maharishi "great seer," and maha raja "great king". The last word also includes raja, a relative of royal and French roi "king." (And now muckle thanks to that great Italian Scotsman Sal McGundy for suggesting today's almost lost Good Word.)
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Re: Muckle

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:42 am

Partly by blood and the rest by desire, I am a Celt. Although Scots English is not actually Celtic, being influenced by Germanic languages just as my blood is influenced by Germanic blood, I think it has a Celtic flavor. So I have muckle appreciation for this Good Word.
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Re: Muckle

Postby MTC » Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:25 am

"Many a nickle makes a mickle."

More nonsense from MTC? Not according to Wiktionary which comments about "Many a mickle makes a muckle:"

This form is erroneous, since "mickle" and "muckle" both mean "large amount" and indeed are etymologically identical. The correct forms are "many a little makes a mickle" or "many a pickle makes a mickle", but these are less-often heard.[1]

[1] Many a Mickle, Cheshire, 1953, Page 12

(http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/many_a_mi ... s_a_muckle)

Further research online reveals the source for the mickle/muckle equivalence is the revered
Fowler's: "Source: Alan D. Mickle, Many a Mickle (Melbourne, Australia: F. W. Cheshire, 1953), p. 11-12. Alan Mickle obtained his information from Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage."

(http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_Many_mick ... n_a_muckle)

None of this will stop me from using ,"Many a mickle makes a muckle," mate.
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Re: Muckle

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:11 pm

Last week's lottery made someone a mickle.
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Re: Muckle

Postby hairyengland » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:49 pm

Good Afternoon, Thought I might just drop a note to "correct" the assertion that a fore-runner to "muckle" was "mickle". In fact "mickle" has the opposite meaning & is considered by Scots to represent a very small amount. A good example is contained in the plea for thriftiness when saving ie "Mony (many) a mickle maks (makes) a muckle" Hope this is constructive. Keep up the good work, never miss the daily contributions. Regards R.Bingham
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Re: Muckle

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Sep 20, 2013 7:03 pm

Welcome Mr Bingham,aka hairyengland. Thanks for the note from on the ground. Some of our most interesting discussions come from comparisons of usages in different locales.
pl
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Re: Muckle

Postby MTC » Fri Sep 20, 2013 7:29 pm

Well then, better to hear it from the horse's mouth than from a horse's a__.
We appreciate your contribution, Mr. Bingham, aka "hairyengland." See ye efter! And thanks a muckle.
Last edited by MTC on Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Muckle

Postby MTC » Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:21 pm

Here's more fuel for the fire:

mick·le (mkl) Scots
adj.
Great.
adv.
Greatly.
[Middle English mikel, from Old English micel and from Old Norse mikill; see meg- in Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

mickle [ˈmɪkəl], muckle [ˈmʌkəl] Scot and Northern English dialect
adj
great or abundant
adv
much; greatly
n
1. a great amount, esp in the proverb, mony a little makes a mickle
2. Scot a small amount, esp in the proverb, many a mickle maks a muckle
[C13 mikel, from Old Norse mikell, replacing Old English micel much]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

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Re: Muckle

Postby Slava » Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:24 pm

hairyengland wrote:Good Afternoon, Thought I might just drop a note to "correct" the assertion that a fore-runner to "muckle" was "mickle". In fact "mickle" has the opposite meaning & is considered by Scots to represent a very small amount. A good example is contained in the plea for thriftiness when saving ie "Mony (many) a mickle maks (makes) a muckle" Hope this is constructive. Keep up the good work, never miss the daily contributions. Regards R.Bingham

Welcome to the Agora, hairyengland. May you post well and prosper, to paraphrase Spock.

Sorry to pick on your first post, but I must ask for clarification of your "correction." None of the online sources I've looked at agrees with your contention that mickle means small, few, or little. All state unequivocally that "mickle makes a muckle" is a corruption of other phrases.

Perhaps it is true that modern Scots consider the modern mickle to mean little, and for their purposes that's fine. Yet, from an etymological viewpoint, it's not true; as the Dr. pointed out in his post.

Can you provide us any sources to back up your claim?
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Re: Muckle

Postby MTC » Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:47 pm

Let me intercede before hairyengland replies. Whether he provides authorities or not, I still appreciate his "man on the street" response. That's what authorities record and rely on, isn't it, current usage?

Next, the authority Collins English Dictionary (see previous post) defines "mickle" as both "a lot" and "a little" which makes it a contranym. According to Collins, in the proverb "many a little makes a mickle" it means "a lot." In the Scottish proverb, "many a mickle maks a muckle" it means "a little." Perhaps hairyengland is merely reporting the first meaning.

Mickle has a muckle of meanings.
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Re: Muckle

Postby Slava » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:17 pm

MTC wrote:Let me intercede before hairyengland replies. Whether he provides authorities or not, I still appreciate his "man on the street" response. That's what authorities record and rely on, isn't it, current usage?


Actually, no. Current usage is what I meant to refer to in my post regarding modern Scots. However, current usage does not necessarily reflect actual meaning. That is why this is an idiom, not a factual statement.

Next, the authority Collins English Dictionary (see previous post) defines "mickle" as both "a lot" and "a little" which makes it a contranym. According to Collins, in the proverb "many a little makes a mickle" it means "a lot." In the Scottish proverb, "many a mickle maks a muckle" it means "a little." Perhaps hairyengland is merely reporting the first meaning.


Yet, look at the etymology of the Collins entry you cite. It states mickle comes from OE, "much." Collins does not address the concept of how something that means much could have come to mean little. A true contranym would be explained, don't you think?

I cannot accept the "a little" meaning of mickle, as it is overwhelmingly considered a confusion or corruption of the original. As the majority of references state, mickle and muckle are etymologically identical, except for the first vowel.

Small, a few, little, were never the first meaning of mickle. All I'm asking is that people who believe or consider otherwise provide evidence to back up the claim.
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Re: Muckle

Postby MTC » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:40 pm

I appreciate your opinion, Slava. It turns out Collins English Dictionary is published by HarperCollins in Glasgow which
would give the dictionary a nominal claim at least to expertise in Scottish usage. I will email them for a response to the controversy. If Collins deigns to reply, I will let you know.
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Re: Muckle

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Sep 21, 2013 11:42 am

Do let us know.
WELCOME hairyengland
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