Tuesday, February 20, 2007

2005-07-23 012Mither

Hands up if you know of the word and what it means.

Because I used bemithered in an email, aware I was building the verb up idiosyncratically. Or rather I thought it was idiosyncratic to use the verb, having previously been exposed to its nounish use referring someone as being "in a mither" or "all of a mither" through my maternal grandmother who also spoke of the morrow, a grandchild being a daft apeth/halfpennyworth and the time being five and twenty to. From the way she used it I took the word to mean a state of confusion, bewilderment, befuddlement, unpreparednesses or general disarray; being busy, in middle of something, and suddenly having to cope with much more or the results of trying to juggle slightly too much at once. So the natural initial response to a familial horde turning up two hours earlier than expected and merrily scuppering plans.

This meaning somehow manages to combine the two listed for the verb moither as given by Answers.com, which are to perplex/confuse and to toil/labour. But this is drawing solely on the contents of a 1913 dictionary (helpfully my fairly recent and fairly hefty Collins lists neither spelling). Various others have mither but define it as the act of annoying, to pester or to fuss.

Searching for mithered brings up a better selection but some usages suggest it is a synonym of bothered, usually as in "I can't be...". So how did my version end up so far from that of others? My grandmother never accused anyone of mithering her, but she could be in a mither and so presumably mithered, so to her to mither was to be on the receiving end of those others would describe as mithering (so the bit just before people suddenly find their interruptions unwelcome and are politely but firmly banished).

Any views?

And while preparing this I found a new word: velleity (found in a list on Diaphania). The lowest form of volition; a hint of an inclination; a tuitless desire (a tuit being a circular device that allows one to do things).


PS. Having written all that I've just realised I forgot to mention pronunciation. Mither: my-the, to rhyme with either (er, which of course you may pronounce the same as ether so this really isn't the best example. Basically, nothing starting me or myth).

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