Tuesday 12 April 2011

Montivagant and Abominable

Montivagant means wandering over the mountains, it's therefore a terribly useful word for describing weekends in Snowdonia, the commute of a yeti, or the possible location of Osama Bin Laden.

Hmm. That, dear reader, has made me go and look up yeti to see what it actually means. Apparently, it's Tibetan yeh-teh meaning little manlike animal. I know that sounds like a lot to get into two syllables but it's probably something like mannikin. I don't know. I don't speak Tibetan, and the way things are going I probably never will.

What really surprised me was that they were little, but the OED insists on it and quotes Sherpa Tensing:

He describes it as half man half beast, about five feet six inches tall, covered with reddish-brown hair but with a hairless face.

Which is rather less impressive than I had imagined. I was at school with someone like that. The Tibetans also call them Meetoh Kangmi, which means Abominable Snowmen. This is a much older and much better name than the badly transliterated yeti. Abominable is such a lovely word: a bit religious and a bit old fashioned: like a communion wafer dipped in gentleman's relish.

Montivagant is obviously the cousin of noctivagant, omnivagant and extravagant, on all of which I have posted before.

The Inky Fool ascending to Humanities 2


  1. Thanks for often making me laugh out loud ("I was in school with someone like that")--- in spite of the fact that I am a Catholic and your quip about communion stabs with its' abominable disrespect. But I forgive you. Seriously I love your dry, intelligent humor. Thanks .

  2. I love the word Abominable too - as in the Abominable Dr Phibes - whose face was not only hairless but skinless.
    It's only a matter of a time before the word 'Aldivagant' muscles its way in - wandering around supermarkets.

  3. The Antipodean, who, like any good accountant, enjoys confusing her colleagues,14 April 2011 at 12:04

    broken biro, that is the word of the year!

    Next time someone in my office wanders up to the shops I shall be able to say that they are Aldivagant.

  4. Ann, thank you. Broken biro, isn't that lidling?