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A.Word.A.Day--mense

Pronunciation RealAudio

mense (mens) noun

Propriety, decorum.

verb tr.

To adorn, grace.

[From Middle English menske (honor), from Old Norse mennska (humanity).]

"Auld Vandal! ye but show your little mense, Just much about it wi' your scanty sense: Will your poor, narrow foot-path of a street, Where twa wheel-barrows tremble when they meet." Robert Burns, The Brigs Of Ayr, 1787.

These lines are from a poem Burns wrote about a dialog between two bridges when the construction of a new bridge began over the Ayr in Scotland in 1786. The Auld Brig retorts to the above mocking by New Brig that one shouldn't get carried away in vanity and pride: "I'll be a brig when ye're a shapeless cairn!"

The poet's words proved prophetic when in the 1877 flood the New Brig collapsed into a heap of stones while the Auld Brig still stands. You can read the complete poem at: http://bartleby.com/6/133.html -Anu

This week's theme: words that appear misleading.

X-Bonus

We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form. -William R. Inge, clergyman, scholar, and author (1860-1954)

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