Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Les Mots Justes

When people stumble across a blog which seems to have no obvious theme or purpose, they naturally wonder what it is about. What's the point?, they ask themselves...what's the fellow's game?

So right from the start I have made it absolutely clear what themes OMF conspicuously lacked, and exactly what range of purposes it was not intended to serve: the blog is basically a confused and confusing assortment of disparate bits and pieces, if you will pardon the cliché, and with the help of the good Dr Roget, I compiled a list of all the words which seemed to me to describe its essence. These sixteen words are listed in ABOUT.

Now, as OMF lumbers into its seventh year, it occurs to me that this brief description of it is inadequate. By a happy coincidence, there was a historic event in the  publishing world last month which provided me with a wonderful tool to help me flesh it out: this was the incorporation into the mighty Oxford English Dictionary of the equally mighty Oxford Historical Thesaurus of the English Language (see note at the foot of this post) into the online version of the OED.

So it was the work of a moment to search for "medley" in the great thesaurus and get a list of thirty-two more words or phrases describing OMF. Here they are:

a mishmash 1475 A confused mixture or jumble; a muddle.
a peasemeal 1525 (figurative) A hotchpotch, a mess.
omnium gatherum 1530 A gathering or collection of all sorts of people or things.
a mingle 1548 A mingled mass, a mixture.
hotchpotch 1549 A confused mixture of disparate things; a medley, a jumble.
mingle-mangle 1549 A mixture, a mishmash; a confused medley of things, ideas, persons, etc.
a rhapsody 1574 A miscellany or medley; esp. a muddled collection of words, ideas, etc.
a sauce-medley 1579 A concoction, a mixture compounded by art.
a pell-mell 1586 An indiscriminate mingling, a confused mixture or throng.
a linsey-woolsey 1592 (figurative) A strange medley; confusion, nonsense.
a wilderness 1594 A mingled, confused, or vast assemblage or collection of persons or things.
a brewage 1599 (figurative)
a macaronic 1611 A jumble or medley.
an olla podrida 1635 A diverse mixture of things or elements
a consarcination 1640 Anything patched up, a heterogeneous combination.
a porridge 1642 A jumble, a mess; something without structure or substantial content; something dull or turgid.
an olio 1649 Any mixture of many heterogeneous elements.
a jumble 1661 A confused or disorderly mixture or assemblage
a motley 1698 An incongruous or confused mixture.
a capilotade 1705 (figurative) A cooked-up story, hash, medley.
a hash 1733 A mixture of mangled and incongruous fragments; a medley; a spoiled mixture; a mess
a salmagundi 1761 (figurative) A mixture
a pasticcio 1785 A confused mixture, a hotchpotch; a mess.
a macédoine 1820 A medley or mixture of unrelated things.
a job lot 1828 A motley assortment brought together (freq. cheaply)
a conglomerate 1837 (figurative) A mixture of various materials or elements, clustered together without assimilation.
a pot-pourri 1841 A diverse collection or assortment of people or things
a chow-chow 1850 A mixture or medley of any sort.
a jumbling 1852 What is produced by the action of the verb jumble
a haggis 1899 A mixture, hodge-podge; a mess.
a casserole 1930 (figurative) A variety of things cooked together.

Paradoxically, the forty-eight words together make up a precise and accurate specification of Other Men's Flowers, which is a perfect epitome of imprecision and inaccuracy.

Other Men's Flowers wishes a HAPPY NEW YEAR to all conglomerate fans, pasticcio buffs, chow-chow lovers, linsey-wolsey enthusiasts and peasemeal aficionados.

[The Oxford Historical Thesaurus is a taxonomic classification of the majority of senses and lemmas in OED Online. It can be thought of as a kind of semantic index to the contents of the OED, and can be used in OED Online to navigate around the dictionary by topic, find related terms, and explore the lexical history of a concept or meaning. Each class (a list of senses and lemmas sharing a particular meaning) is arranged chronologically, giving a historical overview of the concept represented by that class.]


Elizabeth said...

You are too modest Mr OMF. Your blog is a scintillating kaleidoscope of thoughts which have stimulated, educated, entertained and amused me ever since the happy chance which led me to it. Long live its author!

Froog said...

I was struck by the fact that the great majority are metaphors borrowed from cooking.

I would have thought that painting or dyeing would have furnished a few at least.

Tony said...

Aw, shucks, Elizabeth, that's made my day. Are you doing anything on Saturday night?

Tony said...

Indeed, Froog, and I might have included Mississippi Mud Pie (fig.). As for painting, I do
attempt an occasional touch of chiaroscuro, and art school mud (fig.) is not far out.
I spent fourteen years selling dyes but can't think of anything from that field which might be applicable except perhaps our description of our product: "Hot or cold, and comes in 64 fabulous fashion shades"; the lovely Elizabeth might consider that a fair description but I doubt if everyone would.