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 “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

Another blog going nowhere.

23 responses to “Yet Another Great Word

  1. You’ve used that word three times, so now it is yours! Have you ever heard that saying? I can’t think of anything but getting some sleep, though related articles popped up at the bottom of your post re Feckless and Reckless. Good night for me, and good afternoon, Judith. 🙂


  2. I’m not much good with words, but I love accents.
    I’d like to be able to pin-point them like Rex Harrison did in My Fair Lady. Wouldn’t that be fun. 🙂


  3. I love it! I’m most certainly going to find ways of using both!
    Would I get away with ‘blogging is feckful!’ 😉


    • PS: I live in one of those feckless countries… the feckless bankers and developers have now left the rest of us in a state of fecklessness… some folk may use other 4 letter words stating with f… 😉


    • Yes I guess that blogging could be classed as feckful but look at all the great connections we have made through blogging. 🙂


  4. I think it is marvelous that you have the patience to listen to three one hour shows and you picked up such a delightful word like feckless. It did occur to me that the reporter/commentor may indeed have substitutes that word for another! Judith did you join in the 365 focus of 2012?


    • Thanks Chris. Maybe the other word beginning with f would have come more readily to mind.
      I don’t know what the 365 focus for 2012 is. Can you please direct me to it? Thanks 🙂


  5. I always heard it used about (and to) teenagers, such as ‘you feckless youth!’ In a colloquial sense it’s pretty much synonymous with ‘useless’.

    Off topic: Absurd Old Bird blog no longer exists, so if you still want me on your blogroll you’ll need to change it to Art By Val Erde. Sorry. (Saunters away feeling slightly feckless…)


    • Thanks Val. it isn’t a word I have heard used often. But as Patti has now given it to me, I shall begin to use it.
      BTW I have changed the link to Art By Val Erde.


  6. It is a wonderful word. I would use it to describe elder voters in the U.S. who want to vote for Ron Paul.

    “The feckless voter, dependent on Social Security and Medicare for her survival, wanted to vote for Ron Paul, who wants to end those programs.”

    Can I also add “clueless”? It just didn’t fit in the same sentence.


  7. I’m sure the US was amongst some of those “feckless” on her list. We blow alot of hot air but can never be humble. I like to thank the NASCAR cronies for some of that. They’ve have the “HELL YEAH” attitude towards EVERYTHING. They think they’re indestructible. Meanwhile, the rest of us just roll our eyes and hope for the best.


    • Germany seems to be the only European Community country able to keep it’s head above water and support those other ‘feckless’ countries. She didn’t mention the US as she was only talking about the EC countries but I think that both our countries could be classed as ‘feckless’ – using money we don’t have for things we don’t need and shouldn’t be involved in anyway. 😀


  8. My dad used the word feckless often. He was from the Scottish Highlands.


  9. Feckless is a symptom of Brit mentality by using out of use vocab. They still use the word “empire” too.


    • Oh Carl – how hard you are on those poor Brits. They don’t know that they have lost the empire and so rely on out of date words and ideas to get them through.
      PS Apologies to all my other British friends. I know you don’t go along with this. 😀


  10. I have a British friend who uses feckless quite a bit, but I’ve often thought her use of “feck” is pretty similar to another word I won’t use in my comment. I love the word so much that I’ve picked it up, in both varieties. The way the English language has morphed (or not) is fascinating.


  11. Pingback: Words… Wonderful, Whacky Words… | Ouch!! My back hurts!!

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