06 December 2006

thank you doctor dictionary.

Today's Word: Dwam (Noun)

Pronunciation: ['dwæm]

Definition 1: 1) A fainting fit, a swoon; 2) a daydream.

Usage 1: In north-eastern Scotland a sickly child can be called "dwamie" or "dwamish," demonstrating that the two meanings of "dwam" are not as far apart as they at first appear. The feverish child not only feels faint, but may also drift off into half-waking reveries. To be "in a dwam" is to be far gone in a daydream. The verb "to dwam" means "to faint," but to "dwam over" is simply to drift off gently to sleep or to take a nap.

Suggested Usage: "Dwamming over" is just as pleasant as it sounds: "I had just dwammed over nicely last Sunday afternoon, when some idiot phoned the wrong number and woke me up." But going into a dwam at the wrong moment can be problematic: "I came out of a dwam at the last board meeting to discover I'd been elected to chair the pay-review committee."

Etymology: Originally spelled "dwalm," this word reaches back to an old Germanic "strong" verb, the sort that switches vowels as it changes tense, like "swim : swam." In this case it shifted from "dwel-" to "dwal-" to "dwol-", and meant something like "to be stunned" or "to go astray." From the present tense of the same verb we have derived English "dwell," which originally meant "to delay" or "to desist from action," and only later shifted to take on its modern meaning of staying in one place for some time.

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