Mar 5, 2008

Rapid Rhetoric: WRASSE

Raphael's depiction of Plato defining the difference between true and false rhetoric This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

wrasse (rass) n. a brightly-colored marine fish of the family Labridae that are found in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea.

The word wrasse has Celtic origins, and is most closely related to the Cornish word gwragh and the Welsh word gwrach, both of which mean "old woman" or "hag." I am not sure of the reasons for the etymological association between wrasses and hags, but perhaps the physical features of these fishes may be related.

Wrasses typically possess spiny fins, fleshy lips, and powerful jaws, and they are valued for food as well as for aquariums. Yet the nineteenth century writer John Bickerdyke, in his 1895 book Sea Fishing, had little to say for the varieties of wrasse he consumed. These fish, he claimed, are "watery and insipid," and the use of wrasse as soup stock produces "the nastiest soup of all soups" (p. 414).


Anonymous said...

goody - a new nickname for Hillary Clinton!

microdot said...

Wrasse, a fish that also possesses the ability to change sex. Not all wrasses, but the blue wrasse of the Pacific actually changes from male to female or vice versa to suit the needs of the school it is in. Many organisms are hermaphrodites, such as earthworms and snails, but the blue wrasse is the only transexual that I know of.

Ari2525 said...

Word History Thanks for sharing. word history!!