In the dark, they thring. They thring towards the blinding light. They thring against the fences, up the stairs, at the railings. They thring, arms upraised, reaching their electronic eyes in the palms of their hands towards it to see, to record, to remember.

Are they thriving? Are they thirsting? Are they furthering? Are they throwing or flinging themselves forward? They are thronging like some large multiform dark evolving thing. They are thringing.

Thring is a verb, yes. An old one. It is related to throng, yes: throng is a noun formed from a vowel-graded version, just as song is formed from sing. Somehow, though, thring rings too high and resonant for us now, and has too much of an echo of throw and fling. But also of thing, and of the ring. We could bring it back with more sinister tones.

It has several related senses. The oldest, ‘move or gather in a crowd’ (per the OED), is now out of common use. A related one, ‘push forward, as against or through a crowd’ (OED), is still supposedly used. And following from that, ‘thrust, fling, throw’ is current, driven no doubt by the force of its company – those other words that sound like it. The thr– onset as in thrust, throw, through, and throb carries a power drawn out by the resonating –ing.

Thringing is such a natural thing for humans. We go in groups, are drawn to what groups are drawn to, press together with strangers. And we push to get through those crowded groups, asserting our individuality, playing the star in our personal movies. We come as part of a group; we reach with the group and beyond the group. Reach out to what, though? And what is reaching for us, and how are we serving it?

One response to “thring

  1. Survives in German: drängen, dringen, I think. And in ‘dringend’, pressing or urgent.

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