Firework

“Firework”, singular, is outside of The Hundred Thousand.  OED tells us that in its meaning as “a pyrotechnic display” although the plural “fireworks” only is used now, the singular used to be used.  Most instances in The Hobbit are of “fireworks” except one.  The uninflected form could be the older form for the meaning just cited – or could be the form indicating other, obsolete meanings of “firework” (work done in fire, a furnace, and others).  Of course… Tolkien uses it in paragraph 01.091 adjectivally, to describe the glare of the blue light on Gandalf’s staff.  OED admits of no adjectival uses, except as the first element in some hyphenated word phrases.  The word we know is tweaked so very gently off the rails – we can take nothing for granted, yet we do not know consciously that we have been alerted.  Absolutely elegant.

  • 01.017 such particularly excellent fireworks!
  • 01.018 You seem to remember my fireworks kindly,
  • 01.092 in its firework glare
  • 06.030 (even the hobbit had never forgotten the magic fireworks
  • 07.083 I would have given them more than fireworks!’
  • 14.013 No fireworks you ever imagined equalled the sights that night.

“ˈfire-work | ˈfirework, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 5 June 2015.

Lob

A “lob” – obsolete word – is a spider from Old English loppe.  But it’s also (separate word, spelled the same) a dialectical word for country bumpkin or a lout (a Scandinavian-rooted word).

Oh, yes.  This is why I did this.  One syllable.  Two obsolete words.  Classic bullying technique – what’s wrong with me calling you a spider?  It’s just a word for spider!  But we both know it means lout – and in Norse it means short and fat and clumsy and bumpkin.  Bilbo needed to pull out the big guns, word-wise, to distract the spiders from his friends, and he did it in three letters.  The master craftsman at play.

08.100 Lazy Lob and crazy Cob
08.119 Soon there came the sound of ‘Lazy Lob’

“† lob, n.1.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 20 May 2015.

“lob, n.2.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 20 May 2015.

Lust

This word’s obsolete meaning of desire descends from earlier meanings such as pleasure and delight, spotted in King Alfred’s translation of Boethius around the year 888.  The parallel and interlocked meaning of sexual desire is attested from about the year 1000, and seems to be locked with the descriptor “fleshly” in theological writings for a few centuries.

  • 12.015 but the splendour, the lust,
  • 15.049 and the lust of it was heavy on him.

“lust, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 20 May 2015.

Mead (meadow)

While we contemplate this regional word for meadow, let’s enjoy some fermented honey and water.  Mead the drink is discussed here and the honey comes from flowers, which meadows certainly have!  It’s a low word… in a poem sung by elves.  Fascinating.

  • 09.053 Back to pasture, back to mead,

“mead, n.2.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 20 May 2015.

Alas

I am surprised to see this word classed as archaic by the OED, but it’s their call.  This interjection expressing grief is related to the word “lassitude” and the obsolete “a-” interjection particle indicates admiration, surprise, or invocation.

  • 14.027 Alas that he is lost!’
  • 17.041 Alas!

“a, int.1.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 18 May 2015.

“alas, int. and n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 18 May 2015.

Loaf

“Loaf” presents us with a little mystery.  Thorin says that the Lake-men will not get “even a loaf’s worth” of treasure.  Does he mean “the value of a ‘prized-loaf’ (obsolete, an official assized bread-price)” or “a pile of coins the weight of an ‘assize-loaf’ (obsolete, an official assized weight of bread)?

  • 06.100 though really he would have liked a loaf
  • 07.116 he had eaten two whole loaves
  • 09.063 carrying a loaf
  • 15.050 not even a loaf’s worth,

“loaf, n.1.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 13 May 2015.

Update 2016.05.18: It is not impossible that I, Dear Readers, when searching through my word-hoard for this word lit on a sufficient substitute: “skein”.