Sunday, January 22, 2006

A muckle of...

I love words. Reading them. Writing them. Playing with them. Always have. It probably wouldn't surprise most people I know that I have multiple dictionaries, a few online dictionaries bookmarked, and subscribe to three word-a-days. I also love word games. Crosswords. Boggle. Tumble Bees. Book Worm. Scrabble.

Unfortunately, friends have refused to play Boggle or Scrabble with me for some years now, leaving me unable to indulge in some of my favorite word games.

And then two years ago a friend bought me an electronic Scrabble game for Christmas. I was in heaven! I could now play Scrabble anytime and anywhere I wanted to. I could mute the sound. I could change the level of difficulty. I could even play against someone else, provided I could talk someone into playing. As you can imagine, it has seen many hours of play.

What I love most about the electronic version is discovering words I didn't know, quite by accident. I always manage to get the hard letters: Q, J, K, X, Y. Not easy letters to play with, especially when you end up with three or more -- out of seven. Which often seems my luck. The electronic game doesn't penalize you for trying different letter combinations to see if they work. It was through this sort of trial and error that I discovered Greek letters ("xi" especially comes in handy) work. It was how I discovered that "qua" and "quai" were also acceptable.

And tonight it was how I found the word "muckle."

The screen for the electronic Scrabble is only nine squares vertically and horizontally. Which is part of what makes it so challenging. The board was filling up, with only the upper left pretty much open. Five squares down from the upper left corner was the letter "L" and two spaces empty below it. Which meant room for only one letter below the "L" and four above. I scanned my letter bank. There was the damn "Q" I am perpetually stuck with, but no way to play it. I also had: J, K, U, C, M, and a blank tile.

"Hmm..." I thought, mentally shuffling the letters. "I wonder if 'muckle' is a word?"

I started maneuvering letters into place from the bank. The blank tile became an "E" placed below the "L," and I steadily built up to the top square from there. K...C...U... I took a deep breath, moved the M into place...and hit "done," expecting to hear the bzzz indicating that it was not an acceptable word (not that I give much credence to the game's word bank mind you, since there are a few real words it does not recognize -- such as the adjective "vampy").

But it was not the buzzer I heard! No, instead I heard the ding ding ding signifying that the word had been accepted. How could it recognize "muckle" and not "vampy"? And what exactly was a muckle anyway?

Apparently it means "a lot" or "great," and is usually followed by "of." As in: a muckle of words:

Muckle, noun: (often followed by `of')

A large number or amount or extent; "a batch of letters"; "a deal of trouble"; "a lot of money"; "he made a mint on the stock market"; "it must have cost plenty"

[syn: batch, deal, flock, good deal, great deal, hatful, heap, lot, mass, mess, mickle, mint, peck, pile, plenty, pot, quite a little, raft, sight, slew, spate, stack, tidy sum, wad, whole lot, whole slew]

Here's to a muckle of great new words!


Jana said...

And this, my friend, is why you are the Word Trix. ;-)

I'm definitely going to have to remember "muckel" though and toss it out in casual conversation. hehehehe See what kind of response I get. *bcg*

Heather said...

Hehe...what can I say?

(And Jana,'s "le" not "el" - just in case you were wondering. *weg*)