Printable Version
Pronunciation: ræng-gêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verbs

Meaning: 1. To quarrel persistently, to bicker contentiously without end. 2. (Western US) To herd (cattle or horses).

Notes: Today we are having another sale at alphaDictionary: two words for the price of one (see Word History). Both of today's words share the same spelling pitfall: don't forget they both begin with a W. Both words share an identical family. A wrangler is someone who bickers a lot or whose profession is herding cows or horses. Wrangling is the avocation of one such wrangler, the vocation of the other.

In Play: We shouldn't confuse wrangling with debating, a genuine form of argument: "While congress wrangles about the small issues, the larger ones go unattended." The critical feature of wrangling that distinguishes it from debating is that it must go on for a long time with no end in sight: "They've been wrangling over the prenuptial agreement for five years now." The other type of wrangling is simple: "Getting the Bickertons to attend marriage counseling is like wrangling cats."

Word History: Today's Good Word is one that came with a Fickle N. It goes back to a nasalized version of Proto-Indo-European wer-g-/wor-g- "to turn, bend" which, with other suffixes emerged as Russian vertet' "spin" and German werfen "throw". So with the Fickle N we get wring, wrong (not straight but twisted) and wrangle. Without it, the PIE word emerged in English as writhe, wrist, wrestle and wrath. English hit the mother lode when it plundered this PIE word throughout its long journey to Modern English. (We never have to wrangle with Jeremy Busch, an editor of the GW series, over submission of such fascinating expressions as today's two homophonic and homographic Good Words.)

Dr. Goodword,

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