Daily Archives: January 7, 2012

Yet Another Great Word

Radio NZ National

Here in New Zealand we have public radio without any advertising – Radio New Zealand National..  This is like Public Service radio  in the United States and covers a wide and wonderful range of programmes that we wouldn’t otherwise have.

We have a three hour long programme each weekday morning and recently when listening to the programme I heard a report from London on the financial crisis unfolding across Europe.  The reporter was an English woman with the most fantastic English accent.  Apologies I didn’t get her name.

All during the interview she referred to the feckless nations (and here I wont name them for fear of offending somebody).  And the word was repeated again and again.

‘Feckless’  means lacking in character or determination. Feeble. Weak. And apparently ‘feck’ is an obsolete word meaning value, or effect.  That word went out of genera use some time ago but feckless remains.  Using feckless in everyday conversation is very unusual and so I was taken by this constant use .

While I know the word, I have never considered using it in a sentence.  So I gave it some thought.  Here are some examples I came up with:

  • The judge called him feckless for not having a job to pay child support.
  • I always thought him rather feckless
  • These feckless people keep coming back and asking for more.
  • and of course her constant theme – these feckless nations want more money and/or assistance but hate the countries that can supply them.

And then I could come up with no more.  Can you help?

According to Dictionary.com “feckless 1590s, from feck, “effect, value, vigor” (late 15c.),
Scottish shortened form of effect; popularized by Carlyle, who left its opposite, feckful, in dialectal obscurity.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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