Word of the Week (160): TINCHEL (probability 9290), by David Sutton

TINCHEL comes to us from the Gaelic timchoill, meaning a circuit, and refers to a circle of men who close in round a herd of deer, presumably for hunting purposes. The business of hunting gives us plenty more words. A RECHEAT is a strain given on the horn to call back the hounds when they have lost track of the game; this can also be a verb. It has a variant RECHATE which is noun only.

An ABATURE is a trail through a wood beaten down by a stag. FEWMET (also spelt FUMET or FUMETTE) is the dung of a hunted animal. Readers of T.H.White's wonderful imagining of King Arthur's childhood, 'The Sword in the Stone', may recall the word from one of Arthur's coronation gifts: 'The Questing Beast and King Pellinore put their heads together and sent some of their most perfect fewmets, all wrapped up in the green leaves of spring in a golden horn with a red velvet baldrick'.

A TUFTER is a hound trained to drive deer out of cover. A BLENCHER may indeed have the uninspiring definition given by OSPD, 'one who blenches', but more specifically it refers to a person stationed to prevent the escape of the deer at a hunt. And if you couldn't afford blenchers you could always rig up a SEWEL or SHEWEL, a kind of scarecrow to scare the deer off a particular escape route.

Finally, if you want an adjective to describe hunting, and are disdainful of the usual VENATIC, VENATICAL or VENATORIAL, try CYNEGETIC, from the Greek kynēgetēs huntsman, from kyōn, dog, and hēgetēs, leader.

Nearly time for Scrabble club. YOICKS, ALEW and TALLYHO!


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