Pronounced: MACK-uhl, verb/noun

Notes: I think many of us have experience with this word, but we may not know that there was a word for this action/thing

Yesterday’s word

The word angor means “extreme anguish or mental distress”

First usage

Our word is relatively old; it came into English in the mid-1400s

Background / Comments

The idea is that one is in so much anguish (or so angry) that one felt chocked… that’s the idea behind the root of our word. It comes from the Latin noun angor (strangling; suffocation), which comes from the verb angere (to squeeze).

Rejected word

The verb burke was a very close choice. I knew the word from the Lord Peter Wimsey story Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers, in which it is used in the phrase burke a fact. It is clear from the context that is means “to suppress”. The actual definitions are “to suppress quietly or indirectly” or “bypass; avoid”, which was close enough to decide I knew the word. However, I did not know that this origin of burke comes from the infamous William Burke (of Burke and Hare fame). In short, Burke & Hare lived in the 1820s, and killed people, selling the bodies for anatomical research, since the laws at the time limited what bodies could be so used, causing a shortage. Burke was executed by hanging, as the crowd shouted “Burke him!”, and the word entered the language; first referred to death by strangulation or suffocation, and later for any cover-up.

Published by Richard

Christian, lover-of-knowledge, Texan, and other things.

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