Posted by: Jack Henry | March 17, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Fetching

One of the lovely women I work with was called fetching the other day, and she remarked how her first thought was that of a dog chasing a ball rather than of looking nice. From there, she wondered about how fetching became a compliment. Today, let’s look at a few words that are complimentary but not standard everyday fare.

· alluring (adj)

"appealing to desires," 1570s, present participle adjective from allure (v.).

· becoming (adj)

"looking well," 1560s, from earlier sense of "fitting" (early 13c.), from present participle of become. Related: Becomingly; becomingness.

· comely (adj)

"beautiful, handsome," c. 1400, probably from Old English cymlic "lovely, splendid, finely made," from cyme "exquisite, glorious, delicate," from West Germanic *kumi- "delicate, feeble" (source also of Old High German chumo "with difficulty," chumig "weak, delicate;" German kaum "hardly, scarcely"). Or. perhaps the modern word is from Middle English bicumelic (c. 1200) "suitable, exquisite," literally "becomely" (compare becoming).

· dapper (adj)

mid-15c., "elegant," from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German dapper "bold, strong, sturdy," later "quick, nimble," from Proto-Germanic *dapraz, perhaps with ironical shift of meaning (source also of Old High German tapfar "heavy," German tapfer "brave"), from PIE root *dheb- "dense, firm, compressed."

· fetching (adj)

1580s, "crafty, scheming," present participle adjective from fetch (v.), in one of its extended senses, here "bring or draw into a desired relation or condition." The sense of "alluring, fascinating" is by 1880, from the verb in the sense "allure, attract, fascinate" (c. 1600). Related: Fetchingly.

For some other related words, you can read more at the Online Etymology Dictionary. I must warn you, a few of the terms aren’t so complimentary!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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