Week eighty-one: AWHAPE (probability 15777), by David Sutton

AWHAPE is a word with a very archaic air, and indeed it goes back in Chaucer and Spenser. It means to frighten, confound or amaze, as in 'Deeply do your sad words my wits awhape'. It is thought to be connected etymologically with the Gothic af-hwapjan, to choke.

AWHAPE is one of numerous archaic words relating to the emotion of fear or consternation, the abundance of which is perhaps not surprising given how much people in mediaeval times had to be frightened about: war, famine, plague, hellfire and several hundred years before any notion of human rights or the welfare state made an appearance, though on the plus side they never had to drive a car in one of our major cities. Thus, for example, you could be ADRAD, AFEARD, AFFEARD, EFFRAIDE, FEART, QUAYD or YITTEN; things could ADAW, AGRIZE (or AGRYZE), AMATE, DANT, DAUNTON, FLEG, FLEY, FRICHT, GAST, GREW, GALLY or GALLOWS you; and there was always plenty to find FLAYSOME, FRIGHTSOME, GASTFULL, GREWSOME, GREISLY, GRIESLY, GRISELY, GRISLY or GRYSELY.


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