cadre, dacre

So I was thinking about the word cadre and how it has a cadre of anagrams: cared, raced, acred, cedar, arced, dacre – wait, is dacre a word? Well, if you accept archaic spellings, it is: it’s an old version of dicker, which has also been seen in the past as dyker, dycker, deker, diker, dikar, dickar, dikkar, dicar, and daker. But if you’re thinking of the verb dicker “bargain”, think again – this is the noun, meaning ten of something (from a Germanic root that in turn is related to Latin decuria). It’s a half a score, a standard commercial lot amount for various goods (hides, for instance).

So cadre doesn’t quite have a dacre – or I should say dicker, I suppose – of anagrams, but it draws near. But if you wanted to rearrange its sounds, you could have a bit of fun too, especially since it has a trio of pronunciations: “cadder,” “cadree,” “cadray.”

It also has multiple meanings. I must confess I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with the way I see it used most often now: to refer to an office-holder or Communist Party persona in China. I don’t mean that I think it’s wrong to use it that way; it’s just that I grew up with the understanding that a cadre was a group of people. To refer to a single person as a cadre still feels to me like calling a single person a committee or a triumvirate.

Or calling a single hide a dicker, I suppose. But then dicker did one better by going from the lot to something you do over the price of the lot to something you can do over the price of an individual item.

But let’s get down to the numbers on cadre. Before it meant a VIP in China, it meant a member of a communist worker’s group in any communist country, and that came from cadre meaning a communist worker’s group. Which came from cadre meaning the core complement of a regiment: its officers and so on, with necessary extra numbers fillable by recruitment. That in turn came from cadre meaning framework. And why would a cadre be a frame? Because a frame has four sides.

It’s not clear what four has to do with this? If you can spot the /d–k/ in dacre and dicker relating to the Latin dec “ten” root, surely you can spot the /k–d–r/ in cadre relating to the Latin quadrum “square” and the rest of the quadr and quatr roots relating to “four” (with the /w/ trimmed out like in catercorner). Ah, yep. Ten-four, good buddy. That’s ten, a dacre, as in the number of anagrams of the letters acder (seven) plus the number of ways people say cadre (three), and four as in the number of meanings of cadre (if you count tendentiously – it could also be five).

Of course, you could fill out the number of anagrams if you added to the letters: redact, cradle, farced, racked, dancer, scared, carved, crazed… and more. Sort of like filling out the cadre of a regiment. Or like how cadres in China sometimes fill their pockets and those of their families…

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