3.01.2007

Bitter gall

I was reading Proverbs 5 and saw the phrase "bitter as gall," which made me wonder what the heck "gall" was. It seems that it's bile, but initial definitions, at least in my copy of Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, describe "gall" as "something bitter or severe" or "bitterness of spirit." Which is odd, since the proverb compares bitterness with gall. So what's originally written as a noun becomes an adjective, using the comparison to become the definition itself.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not really related, but yesterday I had a conversation with a friend and uttered "'better' is better than 'good'". She replied, "why is 'better' better." I forget my response, but I think we trailed off into what an axiom was, and if she was just trying to be difficult, or we couldn't agree on some axiomatic facts (like the definition of better, or numerical 1=1) we weren't going to have much of a conversation. We were arguing value judgments and my friend wouldn't admit that some things can be better than others, even in the abstract. I think I lost my point, so I'll clam up.

Larry

mj said...

I think your lawyer-related analytical thinking may be getting to you ;)

Jenny O said...

ihave taken this piece about gall, and put it in my blog, called gettingoffit.blogspot.com...
a perfect piece for me, thanks, jenny oliver in yorkshire england

mj said...

Thanks for posting it--I'm going to read more of your blog too.

Kristinn said...

"Many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition; for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me"

Hey I was looking for this word for my english paper. Thought I would drop in the sentence for fun, I am at the start of understanding "language" use in literature.

mj said...

Thanks for visiting and good luck on your paper.