Monday, October 25, 2010

Today's Word: mammock

mammock: No, Lady Gaga, a mammock is not a "meat hammock." As a noun, a mammock is bit, shred, or scrap of something. As a verb, to mammock means to shred or tear to shreds. (I'm feeling a bit mammocked myself right now.)

I have no idea where the word came from, but I'm in good company: Webster's New World has a big question mark where the word's derivation ought to go. Still, it's a wonderfully useful word.

In "Of Reformation in England," (1641) John Milton railed against the current state of the Church with this:
...the table of communion, now become a table of separation, stands like an exalted platform upon the brow of the quire, fortified with bulwark and barricado, to keep off the profane touch of the laics, whilst the obscene and surfeited priest scruples not to paw and mammock the sacramental bread, as familiarly as his tavern biscuit.

Which just goes to show that I need to read more Milton.