Happy Friday! Today’s Word of the Day on Dictionary.com is “Crambo”. It’s an odd little word that originated in 17th century France from the word “crambe” which means “cabbage”. The resulting “crambo” though, has little to do with cruciferous vegetables in its application. The French word “crambe” was originally blended with the Latin term crambē repetīta which means “cabbage served up again” implying something distasteful that is repeated.
Following this illogical trail, Crambo then, is defined as an “inferior rhyme” (I think the inferior part of its definition comes from a global distaste for re-stewed cabbage) and it is also the name of a popular game that is thought to have originated with Aristotle. I also found a reference that linked the word crambo with the Greek rhyming game of krambē, but when I tried to learn more about it, I was only able to find Greek references to krambē (the actual cabbage variety), thought to be a great cure for a hangover.(wonder if that is true…might have to try it sometime…) But, I digress. 🙂
Back to modern times…or at least 17th century forward. In the game of crambo teams compete with each other to find a word that rhymes with a word or line presented by the opposing player or team. The game ends when no more rhymes can be found, thus exhausting all rhyme references for a given word or phrase.
So, what does this have to do with cabbage? The game is tied to the vegetable reference, Wikipedia says, in that the players start with a rhyme and then “restew” it. There are other variations of the game developed in the 19th century where actual rhyming words are not used, but rather descriptions of the word. A game called Dumb Crambo is a “charades” version where players act out the word, challenging their opponents to guess the rhyming word.
As if this all isn’t crazy weird enough, considering the word’s etymology, I also discovered that there is a popular industrial tool called The Crambo touted as “one of the best machines for shredding all types of wood and green cuttings”. This has nothing to do with rhyming of course but I like to think it brings us back full circle to the origin of the word…the lowly, much maligned, smelly, gas-inducing cabbage. While I am not a fan of crambē repetīta I do like a side of shredded cabbage, (aka “slaw”) every now and again with my bbq or fish and chips.
I suppose I best get on with the task of the day…a haiku. What a word! What a word!
Exhausting all rhyme
Crambo renders final words
kat ~ 13 January 2017