The Toad's Words

Excursus #14

You asked for it!

Back by popular demand are more "Q" words.

Quack, noun

Pronounced quack, accent on the quack.

1) The sound uttered by a duck or exuberant fans of The Mighty Ducks.

2) A mountebank, a charlatan. An untrained person who dispenses medical advice while pretending to be a physician. This also is commonly used when referring to a trained physician that is not very good. This is short for 'quacksalver', which comes from the Dutch word kwakzalver - one who sells his remedies by his patter.

The quack tried to quench the queasy stomachs by handing out a quasi quinine solution.

Quiff, noun

  1. A tuft of hair or curl worn on the forehead. Commonly an oiled lock plastered to the forehead.

This is undoubtedly British slang variant of the word coif - a tight fitting cap.

2) A cheap woman or prostitute. A quean.

The quack who was chatting up the quiff, wore his red coiffure in a quiff.

Querist, noun

A person who asks questions or queries. One who inquires.

This and related words hail from the Latin quaerere, to seek or ask.

The queerest querist quibbled with his quarry before having his questions quelled.

Quay, noun

Pronounced key.

A dock, solid landing place, or reinforced bank where ships can land and be loaded or unloaded. A wharf or pier.

Quay is of Celtic origin but comes into modern usage from the Old French kai. Interestingly, the Spanish word cay, meaning small island has the same root.

The Queen quarantined all ships on the quay because of the possible cholera outbreak.

Quire, noun

Pronounced choir.

A set of 24 sheets of paper of the same size and type. It can also be 25 when it means one twentieth of a ream. In bookbinding it is a set of four sheets folded to make eight pages.

This comes from the Latin quattuor, meaning four.

Each member of the choir was handed the music, which had been printed on a quire.

Quidnunc, noun

Pronounced kwid nunck (with a u as in cut), accent on kwid.

A busybody or nosy person. A gossip.

From the Latin quid nunc? Meaning 'what now?'

The quirky quidnunc with the greasy quiff and the querist carrying the quire coughed endless questions at the quack hoping to find a cure for the quinsy they caught from the quiff on the quay.

Disclaimer: The author, his peers, friends, and colleagues in no way take responsibility for crossed-eyed glances, slapped faces, rejected offers, or any draconian consequences as a result of using The Toad's Words.

Revised: August 27, 2000

Copyright by Michael L. VanBlaricum, 04 September 2000.

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