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Pronunciation: swi-dhêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, verb

Meaning: 1. (Noun) Uncertainty, indecision, doubt, hesitation. 2. (Noun) Agitation, turmoil, confusion. 3. (Verb) Hesitate, be uncertain, be perplexed or confused.

Notes: This word is another contribution from Kiltland (Scotland), but it is used in the northern English dialects, too. It is an acceptable word in Scrabble, and there is even a South African movie entitled Swither. The present participle, swithering, is used for the adjective and noun of this word.

In Play: The noun has two senses, "uncertainty" and "confusion". In the latter sense expect to hear: "When Jack Potts was told he had won the lottery, he fell into a joyous swither." The verb blends the two noun senses: "Jack swithered when asked what he planned to do with his winnings."

Word History: The origin of today's Good Word is a mystery. The connection with the Old English words ge-swiðrian "to abate, dwindle, fail", geswiðrian "to cause to fail or disappear, weaken, destroy", swaðrian, swæðorian "to subside", and geswæðrung "failure (of mind)" is probable, but not conclusive. Even if the connection is there, we do not know where these words came from, since there is no evidence of them in any Germanic or Indo-European languages. So, the origin of swither is as mysterious as the mysterious Grogie, the senior Lexiterian in the Alpha Agora, who recommended today's arcane Good Word.

Dr. Goodword,

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