Date: Wed, 8 Oct 1997 15:31:01 -0600 From: charles fritz juengling Subject: Re: Weeds I know the term, but do not use it. I'm not sure I have ever heard it in conversation, but know it as you do--a literary term. Fritz Juengling St. Cloud State University Minnesota >I don't remember where I first encountered the term "widow's weeds," but >it was clear to me that it was archaic/literary, and it was always clear >from the context that it meant "clothes that a widow wears to a funeral." >I don't think I've ever run across this "weed" (ligature and a macron) either in the singular or without the "widow." > >I was astonished recently to run across someone (a copyeditor for a major >publishing house, yet) who claimed not to understand the term at all, and >further investigation revealed that college-age people I asked not only >had never encountered it but were unable to guess its meaning even when >offered the context, "At the funeral, the grandmother wore widow's weeds." >("Some kind of plant?!" one wondered.) The older the person asked, the >more likely they were to have heard it, or if they said they had never >heard it, they could still guess that it meant mourning clothes generally >or perhaps some specific item of clothing. > >My question: does anyone know if this term ("weed" or "weeds," with or >without the widow) survives anywhere in living speech? > >Peter McGraw Fritz Juengling Foreign Languages and Literature Department St. Cloud State University