March 12, 2009 at 8:44 am | Posted in The Knave | Leave a comment

Quagmire is the long version of the word “quag” and English for the Pig Latin word “agmirequay”. Seldom useful in the formation of palindromes, it can sometimes be used in anagrams (example: Iraq? Me? Ug!!!). Quagmires have a long history, going back to the first priggish fop who thought the simple word “bog” was too proletarian. This man was named Guy Fawkes. Although more famous for attempting to assassinate King James I of England and the British Parliament by blowing up the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster with a homicide bomb as part of the Gunpowder Plot, Guy (or Guido as he preferred to have his mistresses call him) was the originator of both commonly used meanings of the word, namely 1) a marsh or bog and 2) a pickle of a situation from which extrication is very difficult. The first meaning came about during a perambulation Guy was having with Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk in the year of some people’s Lord 1571. They were discussing a plan by Roberto di Ridolfi to kill Queen Elizabeth I of England. Both thought it was a jolly good idea, because both wanted Mary Stewart (not to be confused with Mary Stuart Masterson star of Funny About Love) to be queen. To make sure they were alone, Guy and Thomas “the Dukester” Howard went out walking through a bog. Although the details of what they discussed have been lost to history, we know that the men returned smiling and covered with mud. A few weeks later, Guy was overheard saying that he would “be happy to sink into the Duke’s quagmire any day or night of the week.” The second meaning of the word quagmire originated after the Gunpowder Plot was exposed and Guy Fawkes was standing on the gallows, about to be drawn and quartered. Faced with being hanged until nearly dead, cut down, castrated, disemboweled, forced to watch his genitals and internal organs burned before his still living eyes, having his head cut off and his body sliced into four pieces which were to be displayed about the town, Guy said, “My, I find myself in a bit of a quagmire.” He solved his dilemma by leaping from the gallows, thereby snapping his own neck, causing instant death, and cementing his dandified contribution to the English language forever after. – The Knave

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