What in the Word….

Words are funny things.

I am writing job applications currently, more for the sake of experience rather than actually currently wanting a job.

I would like a job in May, but until then I am working on my new collection(s)

It is interesting when you think about you choice of words in such an application and their aims.

For the most part I am trying to hide the fact that I’ve never completed a degree and emphasise the fact that I’ve worked hard when employed.

Some words have stopped being used and have died natural deaths. Others have had their meaning changed.

I learnt from Julian Burnside’s Word Watching the other day that when people speak of the “enormity” of the problem, that they may mean how large the problem is, but enormity actually means “The quality of passing all moral bounds; excessive wickedness or outrageousness”.

I don’t think I’ve ever used that word correctly.

Instead, you could use the phrase the immanity of the problem, but my spellcheck just said that was wrong…

Some words that no one learns (which I like) are:

A scolding of seamstresses
A cutting of cobblers
A bleach of suitors (cobblers)
A misbelieving of painters
A worship of writers

I particularly like a misbelieving as a way of describing a group of painters.

Some words and phrases which we use come from other fashion related subjects. Burnside says:

Grog – derives from the grogram coat of the unloved admiral Vernon. (grogram is a coarse fibre of silk mohair and wool. From the French “gros grain” ) In 1740 admiral Vernon ordered that rations of rum provided to sailors should be diluted with water in order to counter the drunkenness that was rife throughout the royal navy. He was referred to as “old grog” and his willfully weakened liquor came known to be grog. It was firmly established by the time Captain Cook discovered Australia where grog quickly became the currency and the culture.


Tweed comes from a misprint. The cloth was called tweel (Scottish dialect for twill) In 1831, a Scottish cloth merchant’s catalogue misprinted it as tweed. By chance, the principle cloth-weaving area of Scotland is in the region of the River Tweed. By an association of ideas, the misprint stuck.

Tweed is what all those lovely Scots are wearing whilst riding bikes in the photograph above.

Not quite fashion related, but Australian related; in 1861 a Queenslander was a style of house, not a person.

Seersucker (below) – usually seen on American tourists, grandmas or in early 90s resort collections comes from shir o shakkar meaning “milk and sugar” (an east Indian corruption of Persian)

Covetousness is rarely used nowadays.

Vainglory used to be one another of the Seven Deadly Sins but, again, is never seen.

Vainglory now has been replaced with pride. Although I think vainglory should come back. It has a nice ring to it.

And now that I have made the move seamlessly from words relating to fashion to the seven deadly sins…

Let me promote a new author, the wonderful Simon Laham, who has written a book on why these seven deadly sins are good for you. No, it it not fiction, and it’s just been released. Go get your hands on it and start vainglorying*.

Simon Laham – The Joy of Sin: The Psychology of the Seven Deadly Sins 

I just bought mine.


(*Definitely not a word)

Map of Australia in 1616


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