Sluice

Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
Posts: 6319
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA
Contact:

Sluice

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Jul 28, 2021 9:50 pm

• sluice •


Pronunciation: slus • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, verb

Meaning: 1. (Noun) A man-made water channel, sometimes controlled by a head valve. 2. (Noun) An act of drenching or rinsing with a sudden flow of liquid. 3. (Verb) Wash or flush with a flow of water.

Notes: This word's verbal sense surprised me. The number of examples of this usage was also a surprise. Notwithstanding the UI combination in its spelling and its origins (see Word History), today it is a legitimate English word. So, a sluice-keeper may be called a sluicer and the present participle, sluicing, functions as adjective and action noun.

In Play: The nominal sense is by far the more familiar: "The downspouts from the roof of Mortimer's house emptied into sluices he made of wood and tin that carried rainwater far away from the basement of his house." The verbal sense is less familiar to most of us: "In the fall, Mortimer sluices the gutters with lots of water to make sure they are clear."

Word History: Today's Good Word is an aphetic shortening of Old French excluse "sluice, floodgate" (Modern French écluse), inherited from Latin exclusa "shut-off". Exclusa is the feminine past participle of excludere "to exclude, shut out", used as a noun. This verb is composed of ex "(out) from" + the combining form of claudere "to close, shut", which French reduced to clore. The past participle of clore is clos, which English also clipped. Latin claudere, interestingly enough, came from PIE klau- "hook, peg", going back to time when people shut things with hooks and pegs. This word spread throughout IE languages, emerging in Latin clavis "key" and clavus "nail", Greek kleis "bar, bolt", Russian klyuch "key", German Schlüssel "key", and Lithuanian kliūti "to catch, get caught on". (Now, let's all e-tip our hats to Susan Maynard for recommending today's Good Word, the verbal sense of which is surprising.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword

bbeeton
Lexiterian
Posts: 152
Joined: Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:34 am
Location: Providence, RI

Re: Sluice

Postby bbeeton » Thu Jul 29, 2021 10:21 am

What? Not familiar with the verb? Clearly you've been spared dealing with plumbing disasters.

But another topic, relevant to a historical relative -- "écluse" is French for "lock", as on a canal. That was on the sign warning that the bridge leading to my favorite provincial campground, across the river from Montréal, might be open, so expect a delay. (And if pitching one's tent on the canal side of the island, make sure there's a good view of the canal so that one can watch the great ocean-going vessels slip past during the night. Awesome!)

Gene Engene
Junior Lexiterian
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Oct 22, 2011 12:22 pm
Location: Washington State

Re: Sluice

Postby Gene Engene » Thu Jul 29, 2021 2:24 pm

'Sluice-ing' is a process much used by modern gold miners, particularly in the Yukon. They have large machines, known as 'sluicers', through which enormous amounts of hopefully gold-bearing soil/dirt and rocks, which lie on the layer known as permafrost, are flushed by a large volume of water, taken from a locally flowing stream, or nearby lake. If it results in the capture of an ounce of gold per hour, it is considered to be profitable.

User avatar
Slava
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 6514
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:31 am
Location: Finger Lakes, NY

Re: Sluice

Postby Slava » Thu Jul 29, 2021 4:20 pm

I've heard of the practice, and it's been used in adventure movies I've seen, but hadn't heard the term for it before. Thanks muchly. :D
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.

bnjtokyo
Lexiterian
Posts: 224
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:16 pm

Re: Sluice

Postby bnjtokyo » Sat Jul 31, 2021 8:24 am

Have a look at Robert Service, "The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill"
Like a lot of Service, it's a bit macabre but there you are, life in the Yukon was hard.
https://meditrax.com/service.html

So I buried him as the contract was
In a narrow grave and deep
And there he's waiting the Great Clean-up
When the judgement sluice-heads sweep
. . . .

Gene Engene
Junior Lexiterian
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Oct 22, 2011 12:22 pm
Location: Washington State

Re: Sluice

Postby Gene Engene » Sat Jul 31, 2021 2:17 pm

Thank you for the Service reminder. I had a friend in my early college days, north of Seattle, who was greatly enamored of Service, and regularly quoted him, enough so that I was intrigued enough to read several of his poems, which pretty much covered the gamut from tragic, through grotesque to hilarious. By the way, do you know if Service was the source of the story about a Texan who went to Alaska to see what the 'larger than' fuss was all about, and got caught up in a demonstration of alcohol tolerance via a keg of whiskey, a grizzly bear, and an Eskimo woman?

bbeeton
Lexiterian
Posts: 152
Joined: Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:34 am
Location: Providence, RI

Re: Sluice

Postby bbeeton » Sat Jul 31, 2021 8:44 pm

Although Texas + Alaska + alcohol + ... does seem plausible Robert Service material, I doubt that it actually was. Service died in September 1958, and Alaska didn't formally become a state until January 1959.

Gene Engene
Junior Lexiterian
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Oct 22, 2011 12:22 pm
Location: Washington State

Re: Sluice

Postby Gene Engene » Sun Aug 01, 2021 2:27 pm

I didn't start reading Service until '65, or so. But I recall there were some humorous exchanges in the local paper, prior to '59, when I was in high school, about what AK statehood might 'do' to Texas, and how it might, or might not, be deserved.

bnjtokyo
Lexiterian
Posts: 224
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:16 pm

Re: Sluice

Postby bnjtokyo » Mon Aug 02, 2021 5:47 am

I know the story to which you refer, but I as I recall, Texas was not an element in the joke. It had to do with what one must accomplish to qualify as a "sourdough." As for what it takes to become a sough dough, I can add two more methods:
1) Watch the ice come in and watch the ice go out on the Yukon. (Although not usually so stated, I'm pretty sure the Tanana would also be acceptable.)
2) To be sour on the country and not to have enough dough to leave.

User avatar
Slava
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 6514
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:31 am
Location: Finger Lakes, NY

Re: Sluice

Postby Slava » Mon Aug 02, 2021 6:53 am

Wow, the internot can be worthless. I've seen "To be sour on the country and not to have enough dough to leave" before, but when I try to look it up, all I get are recipes and other articles for sourdough bread. I framed it in quote marks, and the first hit was for an article about Netanyahu, with "Israel's" bolded, as if it were the reason for the hit.

Spellcheck isn't much better, either; mine wants to change Netanyahu to Chaitanya. Whatever that is, it has to be capitalized or it's wrong, too.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.

Philip Hudson
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 2531
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:41 am
Location: Texas

Re: Sluice

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Aug 08, 2021 8:46 pm

Service is one of my favorites. Checkout the Cremation of Sam McGee as recited by Johnny Cash, a great American singer who now sings in the heavenly choir. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJNZwuamwj0
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.


Return to “Good Word Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 26 guests