Saturday, January 23, 2016

Short Word Saturday: SHIRK

Having a lazy snow day Saturday (hey, some snow did fall in Atlanta, and that's enough for all of us to stay home), so I have done some planning for this blog, but am writing this post later in the day than I would like.

Appropriately enough, the word I picked for today is shirk. Shirk can be a noun or a verb. Someone who shirks is avoiding his responsibilities, and the word has a connotation of laziness or sneakiness about it. A shirk (a person who shirks) can be someone who just blows off his work all together and disappears...

...or someone who gives the appearance of working while letting others do most of the labor. This person can also be known as a shirker.

Shirk has a somewhat mysterious etymology. On one hand, Collins says that it "probably" comes from the German Schurke, meaning rogue or scoundrel. On the other hand, Collins and other sources suggest that it is derived from shark via an archaic 17th-century definition of shirk as being a con-man or conniver (as in "loan shark").

Also of interest is a completely separate definition of the word. Shirk has a particular meaning in Islam, where it describes the sin of believing anything to be equal to or above Allah or, more generally, any sinful belief. The Islamic definition also has a completely separate etymology, coming from the Arabic word for association.

And this is how this blog helps me learn things--I was familiar with the usual usage of "shirk" when I started this entry, but the second definition from Arabic is completely new to me. Neat!

Finally, a housekeeping note...

You may have noticed the title of "Short Word Saturday". To help me come up with words to write about (or actually, to narrow down my choices on any given day, so I don't spend too much time figuring out which word to write about), I'm going to experiment with topic themes for each day of the week:
  • Short Word Saturday (words of 5 letters or less)
  • Seven Letter Sunday (words with 7 letters)
  • Mundane Monday (looking at very common, seemingly boring words for interesting or archaic meanings, fascinating etymology, or good uses in word games)
  • Two/Three Letter Tuesday (does what it says on the tin; my plan is to work through the list of 2- and 3-letter words that any serious Scrabble player eventually memorizes)
  • Weird Word Wednesday (wild and crazy words, often dealing with the J/Q/X/Z words beloved of word game players
  • Thesaurus Thursday (using thesaurus to randomly find words to write about -- this one may be replaced, I don't know if I'm crazy about this idea)
  • Free Form Friday (anything goes)
I will try these themed days for a while and see how it goes with helping me narrow down daily topics. I may keep some or all of them;  I may not. If you have any thoughts on this schedule, or suggestions for words to feature, please leave a comment!

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