A medical plaster; an alcoholic solution of soap (or oleic acid) and camphor with some added essential oils; soap liniment; (also) a preparation made from this, esp. by mixing with laudanum; now arch. In extended use: (U.S. regional) any medicine; alcohol. (OED)
I would have guessed that this attractive-sounding word (too much so for what it describes) must come from some indigenous American language, but the OED says it was coined by Paracelsus, who seems to have had a penchant for whimsical neologisms: other coinages of his include nostoc, synovia, sylph, alkahest, and maybe even gnome.
This was bread prepared in a rather special way, women would knead the dough between their naked thighs before baking it; it was supposed to serve as a love-charm or aphrodisiac. Here is John Aubrey on the matter:
" Young wenches have a wanton sport which they call moulding of Cockle-bread, viz. they get upon a table-board, and then gather up their knees and their coates with their hands as high as they can, and then they wabble to and fro, as if they were kneading of dowgh, and say these words, viz.
My dame is sick and gonne to bed, And Fie go mould my Cockle-bread.
I did imagine nothing to have been in this but meer wantonnesse of youth. But I find in Burchardus, in his "Methodus Confitendi," printed at Colon, 1549, (he lived before the Conquest,) one of the Articles (on the VII. Commandment) of interrogating a young woman is, " If she did ever, subigere panem clunibus and then bake it, and give it to one she loved to eate, "ut in majorem modum exardesceret amor." So here I find it to be a relique of naturall magick an unlawful philtrum.
White Kennet adds, in a side note, " In Oxfordshire, the Maids, when they put themselves into the fit posture, sing thus,
My granny is sick, and now is dead, And wee'l goe mould some Cockle Bread, Up with my heels and down with my head, And this is the way to mould Cockle-bread." "
It is mentioned in this poem by George Peele:
Fair maiden, white and red, Comb me smooth, and stroke my head; And thou shalt have some cockle bread. Gently dip, but not too deep, For fear thou make the golden beard to weep. Fair maid, white and red, Comb me smooth, and stroke my head; And every hair a sheave shall be, And every sheave a golden tree.
I stumbled across this word in a poem by Kipling, the Road-Song of the Bandar-Log (monkey-folk - 'Brother thy tail hangs down behind!'), which contains this line: 'Then join our leaping lines that scumfish through the pines'. Although the poem is familiar enough to me, I had not really noticed the word before. Since I cannot find it in the OED or any other dictionaries that I own, I present it simply as an unidentified species. Can anyone tell us anything more?
One of the quotations the OED gives for "God bless the mark" (section III.11 of the first entry for the noun 'mark') is:
1833 Dublin Penny Jrnl.2 23/2 ‘An' they say’, remarked a third, ‘that if a body swears in the wrong wid that [sc. the garvarry] about his neck, his face'll be turned to the back of his head, God bless the mark!’
The parenthetical gloss seems to be the OED editor's, but 'garvarry' is not in the OED. Google only yields a few hits for Irish surnames and placenames (some spelled "Garvary"). Beyond the obvious assumption that it's something you wear around your neck, does any of our learned contributors have any thoughts on what a garvarry might be?
There are of course many unusual words connected with architecture, especially ecclesiastical architecture; one I particularly like is 'slype', meaning a covered passage, especially one leading from a cathedral or monastic church to the associated chapter-house. Here is a doorway leading into the slype at Gloucester Cathedral:
A cat-lover (ailouros being a cat in ancient Greek). Perhaps not that unusual, but not widely familiar among non-ailurophiles. After all, it is much easier just to say cat-lover, and ailouros doesn't have a catty sound.
I came across this in an anthology of bad verse, an extract from 'The Bride's Prelude' by D.G. Rossetti:
Against the haloed lattice-pains The bridesmaid sunned her breast; Then to the glass turned tall and free, And braced and shifted daintily Her loin-belt through her coat-hardie.
Can't you just picture it? According to the OED a cote-hardie or coat-hardy is 'a close-fitting garment with sleeves, formerly worn by both sexes'; apparently buttoned down the front and reaching to mid-thigh. Doubtless to be found in Pre-Raphaelite paintings of yearnful maidens.