I Put a Spell on You

At some point in the last few days I was writing about spelling, and a thought recurred to me: is it a coincidence that the verb to spell (as in, How do you spell that word?), and the noun spell (as in magic spell) are identical?

This time I’ve decided to pursue this line of inquiry, and the answer is basically: No, it’s not just a coincidence!

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Where does the Word News Come From?

Well, let’s start with where it doesn’t come from.

It’s not, as you might have heard, an acronym of North, East, West, and South. This is a popular misconception, usually claimed to be based on the idea that news comes from all directions.

While this sounds cute, it’s really not the way words are formed at all. As I’ve pointed out before.

Instead, the truth is a bit stranger.

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A while back I wondered, considering one can be ruthlesscan one also therefore be ruthful. Toaday I considered a similar case: can you be reckful?

The answer is yes, but you’d sound quite old-fashioned. To reck is a now mainly obsolete word meaning to heed/pay attention to. It’s from the 16th century, and derived from the Old English reccan, meaning to take care of/heed of.

As to reck came to be used as a noun as well as a verb, the adjectives reckful and reckless logically followed. Reckful didn’t stand the test of time though, probably for two main reasons. I think it simply doesn’t sound as catchy as reckless. More importantly though, talking about someone being reckful generally isn’t as interesting as talking about someone reckless, so we’re naturally going to talk about the latter more.

So if you want to use the word reckful, you can, but consider that you can also use heedful, attentive, or other similar, more common words. But also consider: wouldn’t it be much more exciting to use reckless instead!?


A duck is an aquatic animal, found in freshwater environments around the world.

I probably haven’t blown your mind by telling you that. Nor, I’m sure, will I do so by telling you that to duck is a verb meaning to quickly dip your head. I may, however, surprise you slightly by telling you which word came first.

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