Owl About Words: Dictionary Neighbours

Most words that are neighbours in the English dictionary are only so in a manner of speaking. They might sit next to each other or even a few words apart, but other than that they might actually be worlds apart. Why, don’t we know of so many English words that have several meanings and depending on the context and usage, take on the intended message?

Ivor Brown, in his book, Just Another Word, tells us of two such neighbouring words that mean quite different things, but have been used together. Frample and franion are words that I hadn’t heard or read in a long time and it was strange to learn that they have been used together in a comedy. It was even more strange to learn that franions can be frample; does that mean that frample folks are franions too?

On a more serious note, I also just learnt that the Oxford English Dictionary can be sexist: franion, that means a licentious person, is “a loose woman” according to the OED. Hmm… the world seems to have regressed in the 16 years between Ivor Brown’s Just Another Word published in 1943 and the 1959 edition of the OED we have at home.

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