Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Playwrights, Playwrites and Playrights

I’ve always thought the word playwright looked wrong. If playwrights write plays, then shouldn’t they be playwrites, in the style of bootblacks and shopkeeps and milksops and tosspots?

After years of wondering, I finally looked it up, and no, you idiot, it shouldn’t be playwrite because that second syllable actually comes from the Old English wryhta, “worker.” It’s the same syllable that you see in profession names such as cartwright, wheelwright and wainwright — or wagon worker, wagon wheel worker and different kind of wagon worker, in order. I’m just now sure how playwright got lumped in with the “building something” and “doing something” professions, unless William Shakespeare’s career necessitated more elbow grease than I’d been led to believe.

But there you go — playwright not playwrite. You clod.

Playright, though. There’s something there. It’s too cute not to be used for something.

Pointless word wonderings, previously:

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