Saturday, 12 June 2010
Bedraggled, Bedrabbled and Befuddled
Posted by M.H. Forsyth
Second, I'm fond (and I know this sounds silly) of the frequentative suffix -le. If you continuously wag your head and dance a jig and bob up and down, then you waggle and jiggle and bobble. If you can't stop putting food in your gob, you gobble. If you keep prating and pissing, you prattle and piddle. I imagine it therefore follows that if you've not been pissed on frequently, you are unbepiddled.
Bedrabbled is formed in the same way and means almost the same thing: dirty with rain and mud.
Befuddled therefore means that you are fuddled, and everybody knows what fuddling is. What's that, dear reader? You don't know what fuddling is? My word, what a sheltered life you do lead.
Fuddling is drinking. Nobody knows quite where the word comes from. It is not, alas, a frequentative. There is a word fud, but it's a noun and means either buttocks or a woman's pubic hair. No, fuddle is an orphan of mysterious ancestry, but it does produce the lovely word fuddler.
Now, I must be off as I am planning (in the words of The Gentleman's Magazine of 1756) to: "fuddle away the day with riot and prophaneness."