Monday, 4 April 2011


His chilly lips hard closing at the sight,
His every member grueing with delight,
At once by tokens manifest he spies
That they are here,

I thought you'd like a little bit of Hartley Coleridge's translation of Statius, it being Monday and all. Not that it's a good poem or anything like that, but it does contain a very late (1847) instance of the verb grue. Grue meant shudder and people used to grue a lot back in the Middle Ages, especially if they were Scottish or Northern. Indeed, most examples of the word grue are taken from incomprehensibly Scottish historical texts, which is why I chose Coleridge.

Modern Southerners never grue. In fact, modern Southerners are so damned tough that most of us don't even know the meaning of the word grue, which is odd as we all know the meaning of the word gruesome.

For more fun with fossil words like gormless, feckless, ruthless and reckless, click here.


  1. I am a modern southerner and, henceforth, I will grue!

  2. We weren't allowed to use gormless as children as it wasn't Proper English. Chambers gives gaum or gorm as dialect meaning understanding etc with gormless as stupid,witless. I would have thought gormless was whatever the opposite of dialect is by now. Do tell us Inky when you have a moment and if it doesn't make you grue is there some process of canonisation when a word goes from dialect to English.
    PS weather is gruesome

  3. Old-school adventure gamers will remember the Infocom Zork games, where the loss of a light source produced warnings of imminent attack by a grue. Such an attack was inevitably fatal.