utriform

If this word isn’t your bag, that’s no surprise – but its referent is somebody’s bag, or at least it looks like one. The word itself presents a possibly confusing form. Or, rather, everything before the form is confusing. We know it means “shaped like something,” but what? The hand of the mind rattles around in the toy-drawer of words: cult? ultra? beauty? u (not) plus tri? triffid? nutri, turi, ruti… argh, this isn’t Scrabble. The beginning u, especially with an immediately following t, is rather abrupt (like a but with its head cut off), and may be redolent of extremity (ultra, utmost) or uncertainty (unknown, uh-oh), especially if the pronunciation is unclear. If you think first of Utopia you at least have the sound. If you think of uterus you are closer still, for this comes from Latin uter, which means a leather bag or wineskin, and uterus is a related word. Come to think of it, udder may be said to be related, too, though Latin for udder is uber. The shapes of the letters now seem to taunt: the u, the o, perhaps even the uberous m… But never mind; one is unlikely to guess it, and unlikely to use it. Add it to your toy drawer: you now have a word for, as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, “having the shape of a leathern bottle.” Paisley lovers take note.

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