A Little Dictionary of Water

Here’s a little experiment to explore what we talk about when we talk about water and how connected to the Earth and Water English really is.

Snow Storm Over Okanagan Lake

The root of “water”, “wet”, is a mouth opening into a dry, receptive chamber. Air pours out of it in a call. A group of words fill out the dimensions of this act.

The Mouth Group

Wet (noun)

          A wet. The land gives forth wetness. When the land is opened, it is wet, not dry.

Rialto Beach

Wet (verb)

           The act of creating a wet. By drinking, for example, one wets one’s tongue.

Wetland: (noun)

A place where wet settles. Originally, only a wet, but as the word “land” gained greater usage, “land” was appended to attach the old meaning to the new one, to indicate that wet was a particular kind of land. Originally, the abstraction was not there.

Wetland in Priest Valley

Wattle: (noun)

Woven willows or reeds, as in a fence or basket, a kind of small portable wetland, a receptive bowl, just as the open mouth of saying the word “wet”. Note that a bowl receives and holds things, both water and otherwise. Note that the word is also onomatopoeic. It is the sound of running a stick along the weave.

Running a stick over bicycle spokes would make the same sound.

Water (verb; then through duration, a noun). 

What a wet does. It gives forth water, especially when a shell is made within it, or a mouth. See “Shell” below.

Big Bar Lake Aquatic Forest in the Lake’s Bowl (or Shell)

Weep (verb)

            How a wet waters. It weeps. So do eyes. And wounds.

Lichen Colonizing a Weep

Well (verb)

The energy within weeping and watering, a welling. It is the active force within a weep as it waters on leaving a wet.

Celtic Well (Source), Hauterive, Switzerland

Mouth (noun and verb): 

What a well is, a source, an outpouring, and through wetting and weeping, of filling. Thus, when one says “wet” or “water”, one is physically representing the space with the mouth, and physically recreating it to travel as an oral representation. On striking an ear it becomes aural. To a trained ear, it recreates the dance of the mouth in the receiving body, in the same way that a dry (or thirsty) body seeks wetness and even calls out for it. In other words, thirst calls forth wet, or at least lays down the conditions for its appearance.

Water Making a Mouth to Spit Out a Drop in a Wet

Like this:

The Shell Group

Shell: (noun and verb)

As a noun, a shell is an empty space ready to hold material by its shape, or one from which material has been removed. Both can be at play at once. As a verb, it is the act of removing something from a shape (a pea from a pod, or an oyster from its enclosing bone, for example) to make the shape into a shell.

Mussell Shell Okanagan Lake

Skull: (noun)

A shell of bone that holds the mind and can fill or empty of life or thought. 

Or a drinking glass on a stem (spine). Your choice.

Skold: (verb)

A verbal toast when drinking, in which a shell (a cup, let’s say) is held up to be filled with life. Hence, to say Skold! while drinking means “life!” A contemporary translation would be “to your health!”

Scull: (verb)

The action of using a skull at the end of a beam of wood (an oar) to cup water and move a boat forward. The act of filling the mind (will) becomes connected to the act of manipulation (the energy of the hand), to unite them as movement.


Scoop: (noun and verb)

As a noun, it is a form of shell suitable for quick filling. As a verb, it is the quick action of filling.

Scape: (noun)

A measure of fate, within a skull shape or mind-shape. What fills a shell or skull in the action of skolding. The word is obsolete, although its meaning is retained within “scoop” and “skull”. It is the portion of a land, city or ocean held in the mind, and is one’s measure. It is also retained in neologisms such as mindscape, cityscape and wordscape. It is a very large shape holding disparate material (such as houses, roads, trees, fields, sky and water) together, and indicates that part of the world that matches an individual’s attention or region of care or regard. “Landscape” painting represents both this energy and the regard that creates the boundaries or shell that holds it.

Landscape in the Palouse

Cup: (noun and verb)

As a noun, it is a shell suitable for holding material at rest. As a verb, it is the act of enclosing an unenclosed material and giving it form.


Shape (noun and verb):

As a noun, it is the form that a cup gives to an unformed material. As a verb, it is the action of forming given forth by the shape or given to an unformed mass by hand or mouth or thought.

Shapes in Gardom Lake
Tófufoss (Tuff Falls) Shaped an Shaping
Bessastaðaá River, East Iceland

I had fun. I hope you did, too.

Next, Tongue and Sip.

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