Foxing, phloem, elucurbation and the wailings of hell

Concerned that my new acquired book on Italian literature might have book mould, I learn the concept “foxing” which is when a book acquires brownish spots, the causes of which, according to my net source, are not fully understood. Not only can people be foxed by a book but the book itself can be foxed, which feels satisfactory. Awaiting further investigation, my Italian literature book still has its own niche in a cupboard though, a book purgatory.


Another new word for me this week is “phloem”, the innermost layer of the bark, which is added to flour to make bark bread (not by us….).


“elucurbation” wasn’t entirely new but not in a state which could be used. I now know that it is to work out or express something with great mental effort or to produce a literary work by great effort, originating from the Latin “lucubrare” to work by lamplight. There is a similar word in French but there it seems to have acquired a negative connotation (rather than semi-jokey as in English).


Finally, as the perfect end of the week, I discover that the figure 57 is not only connected with baked beans but that there are also 57 words relating to hell in my Concise Anglo-Saxon dictionary (J.R. Clark Hall).

Particular favourites:


helleceafl, the jaws of hell

hellcwalu, pains of hell

hellegrund, abyss of hell

hellehaeft, prisoner of hell

hellerune, pythoness, sorceress (how did the A-Ss know about pythons?)

hellewitebroga, horror of hell-torment

hellheaf, wailings or howlings of hell

helletintrega, hell-torment

helleswite, hell-pains

hell-traef, the devil’s temple



2 thoughts on “Foxing, phloem, elucurbation and the wailings of hell”

  1. Hi David

    I have just seen the link to you blog on FB so now I have successfully stalked you to here. I also have a blog – shared with two others which is based on writing by we three and others as they turn up. One of our number is interested in Anglo Saxon, hence the title of the blog and we all have dragon names, mine, predictably is Eorðdraca. If you would care to have a look, you are very welcome:

    Our ‘brand name’ is Themovingdragonwrites

    Glad to see you are getting around Dorset etc. Have you been back to Templecombe?

    1. Hi Richard

      I was lucky to see our old house in Templecombe, Stocks Cottage, as tne new owner was in the process of knocking down walls to combine it with the next door cottage and it probably looks very different now than it did during our time there. I had a similar “last-moment” experience in Lancing when I visited our old classroom just before they converted the school into some other kind of social facility. The view from the window (not much) was the same but the room felt very small. I also read about Mr Green the other day, who apparently went on to teach at secondary school (Irene Avenue).

      Anglo-Saxon fascinates me too. I’ve dabbled in it rather than learning it properly but I would like to dabble more intensively.
      I find the historical connections between Swedish and English fascinating.
      The Norse-speaking Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons could more or less understand one another (presumably when they took a breather from battering and resorted to the odd word…).
      It’s amusing when you know Swedish and a smattering of Anglo-Saxon that UK place names become comprehensible. I now know that the next village to Templecombe, Henstridge, is probably the ridge where the stallions were kept (Hingst (stallion) – rygg (ridge). Not unreasonable being in mind that the Temple in Templecombe comes from the Knights Templar being there.

      I’ll have a look at your blog. I’ve read one or two pieces that you’ve written (will never be able to look at a sheep on the moors again without thinking of you…..) and on geology.
      My mother lived in Chard and the family spent a lot of time in Lyme Regis which is not so far away, a place where it’s difficult not to be interested in geology!

      Best regards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.