Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sooth Be Told

Melanie asked what the sooth in soothsayer means. It’s a very old word, tracing its origin to similar words in Old Saxon and Old Norse; it means truth. It is sometimes used as a parenthetical insert ironically imitating obsolete language: Forsooth, dude, that was hot!

Literally, a soothsayer is someone who tells the truth, but not in the ordinary way. A soothsayer allegedly has the power to foretell future events by using divination. The arrangement or appearance of objects is interpreted by the soothsayer. Some mighty strange means have been employed through the centuries, as the following select –mancy words indicate.

  • belly noises: gastromancy
  • bubbles rising in a fountain: pegomancy
  • cloud formations: chaomancy
  • feces: scatomancy
  • forehead wrinkles: metopomancy
  • melting wax dropped in water: ceromancy
  • mice movements: myomancy
  • neck wrinkles: collimancy
  • neighing horses: hippomancy
  • rooster choosing grains of corn: alectoromancy
  • tongue color or features: hyomancy

SIDEBAR: an interview with Michael Sheehan

NOTE: If you live in the GT region and are over 50, get a team of 3 together for this year's Senior Spelling Bee. Practice rounds at TADL Wed. April 25 & Thurs. April 26 at noon. Main event Friday, May 4th, 1 p.m., at the Gilbert Lodge on Twin Lakes. Call the TC Senior Center for details at 231-922-4911.

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

Check out Mike's program-based books here:

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.



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