A word that might be made of barbed wire. It snags your tag, nags and sticks you. Is it agony or just agon? Don’t egg it on. It’s negative from the get-go, with the ant that is ever against – a little insect in the black ink of text, carrying much more than its weight in animus. When you see that, you might well say “Ag, what’s to do?” Best be gone? But the c at the end might catch you – if you haven’t been tarred by the nasty double [æ], pushed back by the insistent [I]s, and poked by the twin tapping [t]s, even while cushioned by the pads of the [n]s. Yes, this word is one of duals – and duels. Front and back are two syllables each, and each is all in the front until it ends with a kick in the back; in the middle is the moat of that perpetual neutral schwa sound represented here by the emptiest character. Two sides, differing in little more than vowel height and the voicing of one stop, glaring at each other across the slightest of gaps. And of course neither will prevail, as both are needed. Why? It’s all Greek to me… of course, from roots meaning “against” and “struggle.” We’ve had it in English since the 17th century – the word, that is; the idea’s timeless.
Be a patron!Support Sesquiotica and get extra premium content and goodies. Starts as low as $1 a month! Find out more and subscribe on Patreon.com
I am for hireI earn my living as an independent editor, writer, and educator. Find out more and contact me at jamesharbeck.com.
Buy the T-shirt (or coffee mug or hip flask)
Wear it proudly:
I operate on a NEED-TO-KNOW basis. I need to know EVERYTHING.
Buy it at cafepress.ca/sesquiphernalia
12 Gifts for Writers ebook – free download
Buy my books
Buy my books on Lulu.com:
- Confessions of a Word Lush (paperback)
- Confessions of a Word Lush (ebook)
- Songs of Love and Grammar (paperback)
- Songs of Love and Grammar (ebook)
- 12 Gifts for Writers (print edition)
You can also get them on Amazon.com. Please note that I make less than half as much per book if you buy them there, however.
Word Tasting Notes Google groupGet just the word tasting notes daily by email – join the Google Word Tasting Notes group.
- 365 words for drunk
- Pronunciation tip: waistcoat, boatswain, gunwale, victuals, forecastle, blackguard, topgallant sail
- An article title, "An article title 'An article title needs commas' needs commas," needs commas
- Can a metaphor be hyperbole too?
- turn the other cheek
- around, about, approximately
- confident in or about?
- To be, or not to be, that is the question
- I plight thee my troth
- Coffice Space
- from the bookshelf
- language and linguistics
- new old words
- Poetry Minute and a Half
- pronunciation tips
- sentence tastings
- The Week
- Word Country
- word pictures
- word portraits
- word reviews
- word sommelier
- word tasting notes