Friday, June 15, 2007


< . . .2-year-old Border collie with a rakish expression. . .>

Kimber/Traverse City: “The word rakish was used in the Record-Eagle to describe a border collie. I thought rakish meant sexy looks, rather than distinctive looks. Why use the word to describe a dog?”

Rake is an old-fashioned term for a man of loose habits and immoral character; he was an idle dissipated man of fashion. “Dissolute rake” is the usual pairing that we find. William Hogarth did a series of paintings with the title, A Rake’s Progress. The adjective rakish attached to this word certainly has a negative connotation: disreputable.

But another rake refers to the slope of a ship’s mast, a deviation from the vertical that gives it a sleek and fast look. Dashing and jaunty would be synonyms. This seems to be the sense that the reporter was applying to the pooch.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, other uses of rake have included the familiar implement used after mowing, the throat and jaws, a rough path, a vein of ore, and a herd of colts. An adaptable word, indeed.

SIDEBAR: Rake, the magazine

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