• blarney •
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: 1. The ability to cajole, to flatter eloquently with a silver tongue. 2. Nonsense, poppy-cock; foolish, misleading talk.
Notes: Today's word is a lexical orphan, albeit an unusual one. It is unusual for a noun to refer to an activity; activities are usually expressed by verbs. So, today's Good Word may itself be used as a verb, to blarney, which has all the forms of a verb: blarneys, blarneyed, blarneying. The verb opens the door for an agent noun, blarneyer "someone good at blarney".
In Play: The semantic slide of today's good word from eloquence to nonsense aptly illustrates the English-speaking world's skepticism of eloquent speech. "Sean got his gift of blarney from the Good Words at the Alpha Dictionary site, though he is known to kiss the occasional rock." If your blarney is unconvincing, it becomes something quite different, mentioned in meaning No. 2 above: "That story of her love affair with a leprechaun is pure blarney."
Word History: The eponym of today's good word is the tiny village of Blarney, just outside the city of Cork, Ireland. The Blarney Stone is perched high up in the battlements of Blarney Castle there. Legend has it that anyone who kisses it will be blessed with the gift of eloquent speech. The stone was given to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314 in recognition of his support in the Battle of Bannockburn, seen in the motion picture Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson. Legend would have it be half the Stone of Scone over which Scottish Kings historically were crowned. (We wish the lot of you crowned with the luck of the Irish on St. Patrick's Day—and that is no blarney!
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