Saturday, August 14, 2010


The word squalor is interesting. It can refer to a physical condition, a mixture of misery and dirt, or to a moral condition, a mixture of ignorance and insensitivity. Its predecessor was the Latin verb squalere: to be rough, scaly, clotted, covered with filth or weeds, or cracked and parched.

Some book or film reviews have tossed around the word squalorology, the supposed science of studying squalor. The adjective squalid refers to something foul, repulsive, and loathsome. It has partners in the noun squalidity and the rare verb to squalidize.

Squall has four different meanings and origins, most of them obscure and not at all connected to squalor. It can be an abusive term for an insignificant person, a loud and shrill cry, a sudden storm, or a squishy or marshy piece of ground.

Neither is there a connection to squalus or squaloid, words based on a Latin word for shark.

SIDEBAR: Squalor Victoria

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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