Word of the Week (233): QUATES (*new CSW15*) (probability 9369), by David Sutton

QUATE itself has long been available to Scrabble players as a useful obsolete form of the adjective 'quiet'. With the advent of CSW15, one can now put an S on it. Fair enough, you might think: the 'quiet' sense has now become nounal or verbal rather than purely adjectival. But the truth is a little stranger.

The latest edition of the Collins English Dictionary adds a great many words that Collins did not cover before, including many archaic or obsolete words that had previously, so far as Scrabble sources are concerned, been the exclusive province of Chambers,. Now, dictionary makers have to be somewhat careful to avoid charges of plagiarism, and not rip off too many definitions from their rivals. So what do you do? I strongly suspect that what you do is send an intern off to research the pages of the great OED with instructions to come up with alternative definitions for a selection of the newly added words. And with QUATE the said intern has a success: the OED says that it can mean 'fate or fortune'. True, it was last used in this sense in 1540, but no matter, it's different, innit? So into Collins it goes, and that's why we can now put an S on it.

Another example of this process at work is the word GREGE. We have long been able to play this as a variant of GREIGE, a greyish-beige colour. But now with CSW15 we have forms GREGED and GREGING. How has GREGE suddenly become a verb? Aha, it's our intern again, who has discovered from the OED that back in 1382, in the Wycliffe Bible, it was used to mean 'to aggravate, to make more grave'. Result!

Another example is SOYLE. This has long been playable as a noun, being defined by Chambers as a Spenserian word of unknown origin apparently meaning 'body or prey'. But our intern manages to supplement this with an archaic verbal meaning, 'to elucidate', with the result that we can now play SOYLED and SOYLING.

Chambers, guv? Never gave it a glance....


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