Friday Morning Bookclub

May 4, 2011

Merrythought ???? Spindleshanked???

Filed under: Dictionary — susanbright @ 9:21 am

 I am having so much fun with my deck of Rarefied Words for the Well-Rounded Reader! The words are taken from Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of 1755, so needless to say, most of them are words I had never heard of! Here is another unfamiliar yet fun word! Merrythought!

Merrythought– A forked bone on the body of fowls; so called because boys and girls pull in play at the two sides, the longest part broken off betokening priority of marriage.

Let him not be breaking merrythoughts under the table with my cousin.

[John Eachard, c.1639-1697, author of The Ground and Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy and Religion-ed.]

Yes! A  merrythought is what we would call today a wish bone, something I always set aside to dry after carving a turkey! The term merrythought was used in both Britain and American until about 1900. The person who walked away with the larger  piece would be the first to marry!

Does anyone know what spindleshanked means?

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