Monday, January 17, 2011


Offal \AW-fuhl\ , noun;
1. The edible internal parts of an animal, such as the heart, liver, and tongue
2. Dead or decomposing organic matter
3. Refuse; rubbish

This word dates to the late 14th century and comes from the idea that the "waste parts" or "refuse" falls off (off + fall) the butcher's block. There was a Middle Dutch word afval from af + vallen ("off" + "fallen") that may have been influential in the formation of the English word.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love words like this because they are so (surprisingly) rare. What is so rare about this word, you ask? It is pure English. Off is at least as old as 1200AD as an emphatic form of Old English of, which is the unstressed form of æf ("away, away from"). Æf comes from Proto-Germanic *af- which comes from Proto-Indo-European *apo- ("off, away"). Fall was feallan ("to fall; fail, decay, die") in Old English and comes from Proto-Germanic *fallanan, which derives from the Proto-Indo-European base *pol- ("to fall").

Here's a challenge for you: write me a sentence using only 'pure English''s tougher than you think!

Today's word and the first definition were both taken from's 'Word of the Day' for Monday, January 17
Etymologies come from the Oxford English Dictionary and/or

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