Word of the Week (235): BISSONS (*new CSW15*) (probability 30518), by David Sutton

Prior to CSW15, BISSON was an archaic adjective meaning blind; it has now become a verb as well, meaning to make blind, and so giving us BISSONS, BISSONING and BISSONED. It has a variant BEESOME, which remains adjectival only.

The locus classicus for BISSON, and the reason why it survives into our lexicon, is Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2: 'The mobled queen...Threatening the flames with bisson rheum' - in other words shedding tears enough to blind her and put a fire out. No, 'mobled' does not mean led by the mob: to MOBLE is to cloak, muffle up; it has a variant MOBBLE.

Taking a look at more modern words for blindness, HEMIOPIA, giving an adjective HEMIOPIC, means blind in half the field of vision. MEROPIA, giving MEROPIC, is partial blindness. AMAUROSIS is partial or total blindness without apparent change in the eye: this has plural AMAUROSES and gives an adjective AMAUROTIC.

PURBLIND means nearly blind, and by extension dimwitted. And note that you can UNBLIND someone - free them from a usually metaphorical blindness.


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