Poltroon

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Dr. Goodword
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Poltroon

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:40 pm

• poltroon •

Pronunciation: pêl-trun Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A mean-spirited, spiteful coward, a craven.

Notes: The quality noun, which refers to the character of a poltroon, is poltroonery, a word you can have a lot of fun with. The adjective, poltroonish, means "like a poltroon". If this isn't enough to get you started with this Good Word, the verb is poltroonize "to play the poltroon".

In Play: We all know people who like to criticize jobs they lack the courage to tackle, "We need more people with the courage to take on city hall and fewer poltroons who whimper insults at it." We encounter smaller acts of poltroonery everyday, "Eva Brick is such an old poltroon for criticizing Bonita's hair-do behind her back."

Word History: English snitched this word from the French (poltron), who got it from Old Italian poltrone "coward, idler". The Italian word is based either on poltro "unbroken colt" or poltro "bed, couch"—we aren't sure which. The first Italian word, poltro, is the descendant of Vulgar (street) Latin pulliter, a variant of real Latin pullus "young animal", the ultimate source of English pullet. If the word comes from the Old Italian word for "bed, couch" (today's poltrona "easy chair"), it is related to English bolster, for that word was borrowed from an Old Germanic ancestor of Modern German Polster "pillow", a cousin of bolster.
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call_copse
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Re: Poltroon

Postby call_copse » Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:37 am

Being a poltroon seems to be no career hindrance these days. You can get right to the top it seems!
Iain

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Re: Poltroon

Postby George Kovac » Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:11 am

In America we are preparing for the long Thanksgiving holiday, a signature feature of which is some cantankerous collateral relative, typically an uncle or a brother-in-law (possibly, but not necessarily, drunk), hijacking family harmony by expounding some crank opinions.

Well, Iain, the bright side of dismal situations (e.g., your example of the wrong people rising to the top in life) is that they can become opportunities to enrich our vocabulary and reclaim words that (lamentably, from a societal but not linguistic point of view) no longer warrant obscurity. Think of how more interesting topical arguments would be if we transformed a holiday dinner discussion gone awry into vocabulary challenges. That will be my strategy this Thursday as I attend two Thanksgiving dinners with various branches of the extended family. For example, I may try to reframe a discussion this way: “Is ________ [insert name of famous person defended by testy relative] more of a poltroon or a caitiff?”
"The messy layers of human experience get pulled together, and sometimes ordered, by words." Colum McCann, But Always Meeting Ourselves, NYT 6/15/09

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call_copse
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Re: Poltroon

Postby call_copse » Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:39 am

Caitiff, nice. Potential suggestion? :D
Iain

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Slava
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Re: Poltroon

Postby Slava » Tue Dec 08, 2020 10:04 pm

Caitiff, nice. Potential suggestion? :D
'Twas, in 2007.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.


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