Anne de Graaf's blog: International-Intrigue-Injustice

12 January 2011

Furth the firth

After having written in my previous post that I didn’t know the answer to one of life’s great questions, namely, “What does the Scottish word furth mean?” I can now shed some light on what must be a question right up there with “How did the Big Bang go off?”

It seems furth can mean several things: non-Scottish, beyond The Border, away from, out, outside of, to the outside. For example, when something is furth of Scotland, it is outside of Scotland.

But I’m also thinking about the words further and furthest which often get mixed up with their cousins farther and farthest. The difference, of course, being that further means to a greater degree, and farther refers to length or distance.

But it seems that furth can also mean out of doors, in a state of deviation from, and honestly, as in without concealment of the truth. To be furth-bering is to support. and furthfilling is fulfilling. To furth-run is to expire. Furthy not only means frank, but also affable, and furthiness is an “excess of frankness, approaching to giddiness in the female character.” Hmm. But the absolute best word based on furth is furthsett which means conveying the idea of splendour.

This means that a furthsetter (which can mean publisher or author) is someone who conveys the idea of splendour. Which brings me to the photos for this post. They are new infrared images of the Andromeda Galaxy. To read the BBC story about the telescopes ran by the European Space Agency, click here. And that’s my furthsett contribution to your day.

So if one of the many meanings of furth is beyond, and firth means sheltered place or arm of the sea, what does the title of this post mean?

Where are we now?

Lastly, here is my favorite scene by a different kind of firth, yet another illustration of how words and languages exchange splendour across a universe, this one called the human heart.

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