"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Monday, 1 July 2013


Swither is a verb of Scottish origin and means to hesitate; vacillate; to be perplexed.

As a noun it means hesitation; perplexity; agitation.

I love the idea of swithering - it sounds just like its meaning.  (I looked up whether there was a word to describe a word that sounds like what it means such as hesitate but there isn't.  Onomatopoeia is about the nearest but that refers specifically to words that represent the sound such as bang and buzz.)


  1. There is an expression in German for words that sound like what they mean: lautmalend. Literally, that means "painting the sound", and it fits, doesn't it!

    1. Yes, it's unusual for us not to have a word for something related to words and grammar.

  2. A word I have used most of my life so presumably got it from Nana or Mum.