Thursday, February 16, 2012

Word of the Day: Reck

Words have long histories, some rather convoluted. Sometimes, a word's partner goes missing, and we wonder where it went.

That's the case with 'reckless'. What is 'reck', and why does having less of it (or the loss of it) make things difficult? 'Reck' comes from the Germanic, its old English form being something like reccan. It carries the idea of 'to take care of', 'to heed' or 'to have a thought for'. If you do none of these things, then you are said to be 'reckless'.

Obviously, if you are doing all these things, you are said to 'reckon' — giving due consideration to the topic at hand. Eventually, there will be a 'reckoning' — an accounting of all the pluses and minuses of the outcome of an incident, event, or other process.

'Reck' has traditionally gone with 'rede', the Germanic word for counsel or advice. A person who is 'ill-read' is actually one who is badly advised; a person who is 'unready' may be badly-advised, or lack wisdom, or reject good advice. The implicit or explicit relationship is one of recking one's rede; to be reckless of one's rede might lead to disaster.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Albrecht Morningblade said...

Ha! I guess that explains why I feel an affinity for the Last Emperor of Melnibone. We have versions of the same name : )

Monday, February 20, 2012 1:15:00 pm  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

But that name is 'All-Bright', not 'All-but-right'! :D

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 7:34:00 pm  

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