Printable Version
Pronunciation: moyl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: 1. To toil or labor, to work hard, to slave at something. 2. To churn, roil, be agitated, be in turmoil. 3. (British dialects) To wet, dampen, muddy, or soil.

Notes: Today's Good Word comes with a noun, moiler, used to refer to laborers or drudges, and not much else. The verb itself may be used as a noun meaning "turmoil, agitation". The same spelling is used for several other nouns with various coincidental meanings, including a kind of apple, a hornless cow, and the glass left on a blowing rod after the article blown has been removed.

In Play: Today's Good Word is probably heard most frequently in the expression moiling and toiling: "After moiling and toiling on the farm all day, Al Falfa enjoyed watching the news while treating himself to an RC Cola and Moon Pie." I personally prefer the sense closer to that of its rhymemate roil: "The visit to her relatives at Christmas left Rhoda Book's mind moiling in ideas for a new novel."

Word History: This word comes from Middle English mollen "to soften by wetting", borrowed and honed from Old French moillier. This French verb descended from Vulgar Latin molliare, a word derived from Classical Latin mollia, used most often in the phrase mollia (panis) "soft part (of bread)". This noun came from mollis "soft", whose root appears in several English words borrowed from Latin, such as mollify and emollient. The root of mollis came to Latin from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) mol-/mel- "soft". The same PIE root made its way through the ancient Germanic languages to English as melt, mellow, and mild. (Now let's thank Nancy Honeychuck for going to the moil of suggesting that we run today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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