Saturday, July 30, 2005


Fewtrils Again

Thanks for clarification on the meaning and origin of the word fewtrils to Deogolwulf at The Joy of Curmudgeonry:
"Fewtrils" is a Lancashire dialect word meaning "trifles", "things of little value". Beyond that, I'm afraid to say I do not know its etymology, nor does anyone else, as far as I can ascertain. I must add that I have never seen it used in the singular, in which I have nevertheless taken the liberty of using it.
and Steve at languagehat, who cites the Oxford English Dictionary s.vv.:
fewtrils, n. pl.
Little things, trifles. Cf. FATTRELS.
c1750 J. COLLIER (Tim Bobbin) Lanc. Dial. Gloss., Fewtrils, little things. 1854 DICKENS Hard T. I. xi, 'I ha' gotten decent fewtrils about me agen.' 1857 J. SCHOLES Jaunt to see Queen 28 (Lanc. Gloss.) Peg had hur hoppet ov hur arm wi her odd fewtrils.

fattrels, n. pl.
[ad. F. fatraille 'trash, trumpery, things of no value' (Cotgr.).]
1786 BURNS To a Louse 20 Now haud you there, ye're out o' sight, Below the fatt'rils, snug and tight. 1788 E. PICKEN Poems Gloss. 231 Fattrels, ribbon-ends, &c.
I was off by a mile, mistaking the meaning of the word and wrongly guessing an Anglo-Saxon or eponymous origin. A topic for a future blog post might be words, like fewtrils, that normally occur only in the plural.

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