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 working vocabulary. This week's word:
Whining is an annoying tone that gets on the nerves, and the British whinge, at least to my ear, is whining with a little more edge to it. But that's not the end of it. You may find your irritation rising as well at puling.
To pule (pronounced PYOOL), the OED says, is to cry in a thin or weak voice, as a child; to cry in a querulous tone; to whine, complain, whimper; to speak in a whining or querulous tone. In Romeo and Juliet, old Capulet, in a fine rage, speaks of Romeo as "a wretched puling fool, / A whining mammet, in her fortune's tender." (The participle is more commonly found than the root verb.)
Nobody wants to hear that. So get a grip. Control your voice.
Example: John Updike in The Atlantic May 1998: "How could I be a cultural ambassador shouldering this ridiculous load of puling, mewing, conceited infatuation?"
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John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers' work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun's night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at email@example.com.