Surcee or Surcie — we love it!

My beautiful collar from Juliette’s Couture was a “surcee” from our friend Edwina.

We’re sharing a previous blog post because we were reminded of a special word just the other day and thought that some of our readers may want to add this to their vocabulary.

This is a word that many people associate with the South. It is one that the Editorial Assistant, Mom Karen, uses from time to time. She says that it’s a word that she learned from her Mother.

The word is surcee, but also is spelled surcie. It’s pronounced “Sir-See.

Regardless of the spelling, a surcee (or surcie) is an unexpected gift or treat given just for the fun of it or because someone wants to give you something to cheer you up or to recognize you for something special that you have done or accomplished.

The etymology of the word seems to be unknown, although a likely source could be the Scots verb “sussie,” meaning “to take trouble, to care, to bother oneself.” And the Scots verb may even have had its origins from the French “souci,” meaning “care, trouble.”

So, from “souci” to “sussie” to “surcee or surcie” and into our language, take time to give someone an unexpected treat. They will love you for it!

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What are you fixin’ to do?

Many people living in the American South are familiar with the expression fixin’ to, meaning that a person is getting ready to do something or making preparations for some type of action. And, yes, many of us are guilty of using these words, which some people consider to be substandard English. For those unfamiliar with our Southern speech,  here is an example: “Our family is fixin’ to go on vacation.”

An interesting post in the blog “Words Going Wild” tells us that fixing has an interesting history and actually dates back to the 14th century. At that time, the word fix was used to “set one’s eye or mind on something.” Someone might have said, “Although she is a employed as a laundress at the castle, Miss Cole is fixed on marrying the duke.”

Words Going Wild also states that using  fixin’ to to mean “getting ready” or “preparing” is from 18th century America.  “The Oxford English Dictionary has a citation from 1716: ‘He fixes for another expedition.’  In 1871 Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote, ‘He was fixin’ out for the voyage.’ ”

From there, Southerners adapted fix as “fixin’ to.”

With such a lofty history,  fixin’ to is hardly “substandard” and may be one of those colloquial expressions that can be charming, even if bewildering at first to those not living below the Mason-Dixon line.


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Is it bring or take?

Lady Louise is waiting for the Editorial Assistant to bring her a snackee.

Our friend Reece Karas asked us to take on the question of “bring vs. take” in our language. According to Reece, two librarians were discussing this important controversy, with one librarian saying that “she is seeing (and hearing) people use take when they should use bring.”

Let’s think of bring or take as a type of transportation or location matter. By doing so, it is much less of a challenge. People bring things to you or to the place where you are located. However, you take things or people to a place away from you.

Here are a few examples:

You ask a waiter to bring extra bread to you. Later, you take the bill for your meal the cashier.

You take groceries to a sick friend. But your friend would say, “Meredith is bringing groceries to me so that I don’t have to go out in the cold.”

A courier from a lawyer’s office, for example, will bring important papers to your house. Then, you will take the papers back to the office once they are signed or to discuss the matter further.

We understand the confusion that bring vs. take causes, and we hope that this explanation will help clarify the question.

And thank you, Reece Karas, for asking the question and reading the blog!


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Hate — a four-letter word

In observance of Black History Month, we found this quote about hate by Coretta Scott King. Widowed when her husband the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Mrs. King spent her life as a civil rights leader, author and activist and was an inspiration of dignity and unity. Given the discord in our nation, we believe that this quote should be read and remembered by all.



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Me, Myself — and Selfie!

Lady Louise does not take selfies. She graciously allows others to photograph her!

A question on this week’s “Jeopardy! College Championship” led us to look up the history of a word that became the Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2013 and sent many who love the English language into despair.

The word selfie is used around the world and is part of our daily vocabulary. We discovered that it was an Australian named Nathan Hope who first used the word in an online forum in 2002.

After celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday, Hope took a tumble down some steps and landed face first. The fall caused an injury requiring stitches in his lip. We didn’t know that eating birthday cake could lead to such pain! Or, maybe it was the punch that led to his tumble.

In an online forum, he discussed his stitches. When a friend ask what happened, Hope posted a photograph of his injured lip and wrote, ”  … sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

It was the first written use of the word selfie. The rest is language history.



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Are you under the weather?

Winter seems to be the season when we are most likely to suffer from a variety of illnesses — flu, cold and stomach viruses. Even if we are not sick enough to visit a doctor, we may feel under the weather.

The phrase, meaning to feel unwell or sick, sounds odd when used in relation to health.

Under the weather almost sounds as though a person has been caught outside in the rain or a storm.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, however, the phrase has its origins with those traveling on ships. Rough seas and winds would send travelers and sailors below deck to prevent them from becoming seasick. Therefore, people were seeking safe refuge in a place that was under the weather.

The complete phrase is “under the weather bow,” which referred to the side of the ship assaulted by the bad weather.

(Illustration by Sira Anamwong, freedigitalphotos,net)

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