Readers Who are Krazy for Kindle: Striking my word fancy

July 20, 2010

Striking my word fancy

Last night, I hooked up to my Netflix account and watched the first few second- season episodes of Sanctuary, which is an original SyFy Channel series. It's kinda cheesy, but also awesome. I like the premise and the characters, so I stick around.

There is a point where Magnus and Druitt argue about the changed nature of their daughter, and Druitt says, "What's bred in the bone will come out in the flesh."

I was instantly enamored. I'd never heard this phrase, and I kinda zoned out for a minute while I thought about it. This happens every so often. I'll overhear a stranger's conversation (oh yeah, I eavesdrop all the time, all writers do ... um, don't they?), or read a particular phrase in a book, or even catch something clever my son says (it happens more often than you may think) ... and I'm just enraptured. Some words are like worry stones. I go back to them time and time again because I like them, because I like holding them and thinking about them and reshaping them. I love turning a noun into verb. I also love getting out the hyphen and using it to connect two words, especially if they don't really belong together---a shotgun wedding (and I am the one holding the shotgun and performing the ceremony).

What's bred in the bone will come out in the flesh.

I Googled (Look! A trademarked word, a noun no less, that has become a verb.) the phrase and found out that the earliest reference was from a Latin term: "Osse radicatum raro de carne recedit." And that means: That which is rooted in the bone rarely comes out from the flesh.

I also found this quotation from Morte d'Arthur: "Sir Launcelot smyled and seyde, 'Harde hit ys to take oute off the fleysshe that ys bredde in the bone.'" (Ah, yes, I remember well the History of the English Language college course I took for my long abandoned bachelor's degree. That was a doozy, people.)

I go off on word hunts all the time. In fact, I bought a subscription to the Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus, which offers a unique way to get synonyms(or antonyms for that matter). It's free to try out, and it's fairly inexpensive. It's also a little too much fun, but then again I'm easily distracted.


Chewing over this particular phrase isn't just about word love. It's about meaning. It's about insta-theme. How many stories can flower from that seed? A lot. Many already written.

Right now, I'm content to ruminate about its meaning, the order of its words, and how I could use it or change it to tell a new tale. And soon, I'm sure, I will take whatever I come up with and ask that age-old writer's question, "What if..."