Obscurities: Dustsceawung

Obscure 13

A word might become obscure because it falls out of use, or another word comes along that can do the job better; sometimes it’s because a word might be hard to pronounce at first glance, and sometimes it’s because the concept it represents falls into obscurity, dragging the word down with it.  I would say that the latter two reasons apply to today’s word: Dustsceawung. A noun, it means the viewing or contemplation of dust. The “contemplation” aspect also leads to a second definition: The reflection of former civilizations and peoples, and on the knowledge that all things return to dust.

In our fast-paced world, not many people take the time to contemplate dust. But I would argue that, now more than ever, such times of contemplation are healthy – even necessary – to give us a balanced perspective on life. So next time you dust your house or your car dashboard, be grateful you have a roof over your head or transport…take some time to enjoy a bit of dustsceawung, contemplating the good things in your life.

“In order to improve the mind, we ought less to learn, than to contemplate.”
Rene Descartes

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6 Comments

Filed under Etymology, Musings, Obscurities, Quotes

6 responses to “Obscurities: Dustsceawung

  1. Amen to the Descartes quote. I’m sure the word went out of use because it is useless to try to pronounce it!

    • Yep – Old English had a few challenging vowel combinations that were probably eliminated when they tried to “simplify” and standardize the spelling way back when – that was the same event that added more confusion than they solved, with additions like the b in doubt, debt, etc… it’s what we would call “Verschlimmbesserung” in German – making things worse while trying to make them better. 🙂

  2. I dust because I’m shamed into it. Forgive me, but I don’t want to think about dust any more than I have to! I can live without that word. Your post about it was interesting, though.

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