Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word:
Prate is a venerable verb in English, and it might turn out to be just the thing to have in hand as we embark on an election year.
In the fifteenth century, the Oxford English Dictionary records, it represented "the characteristic sound of domestic poultry." Later, to bark or howl, as a hound does. From dogs and chickens, the sense progressed to people, giving the current meaning, to chatter or speak foolishly or boastfully.
It has readily lent itself to ecclesiastical contexts, as in this sentence from Michael Clynes's The Poisoned Chalice: "I sat in my pew and heard him prate on for at least an hour and a half."
The word comes into English with honorable antecedents, the Dutch praten and the Middle Low German proten, both meaning "to babble."
I suspect that it is more commonly in use in Britain and the Commonwealth nations, but there is no reason Americans cannot take advantage of it, particularly since it is appropriate on so many occasions.
Example: From the London (Ontario) Free Press in 2005: "Naysayers, meanwhile, continue prating that the science of global warming is unsound."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun