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  • Paul Anthony Jones


(adj.) sluggish, slow-witted

a wheat field

The most popular Word of the Day on HH this week was sloomy, a nineteenth century word meaning “sluggish” or “slow-witted”:

Although in that sense sloomy dates back to the 1800s, the word itself has been with us a lot longer. Originally, sloom was a verb used mostly in agricultural contexts to mean “to be waterlogged” or “laid down by water, snow, or mud”. Grain that was sloomed, or sloomy, was ultimately poor quality, slow to grow or, even worse, quick to mould and decay.

It’s thought that the use of sloomy to mean “sluggish” is probably a figurative application of this old farming term—although there’s likely been some confusion along the way with an even older verb sloom, meaning “to slumber” or “doze”.

In any case, it all makes for a nicely evocative word for that muddle-headed, slow-thinking feeling better known as Monday morning.

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