Author Topic: Betell/betold  (Read 201 times)

pat

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Betell/betold
« on: April 08, 2021, 03:13:09 AM »
I'm not sure if this is a proper word or not, although I've actually used the word in the past tense. It's not in my 2-volume 'shorter' Oxford dictionary but it's in several online dictionaries. Suitable for inclusion?

TRex

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Re: Betell/betold
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2021, 09:37:14 AM »
The OED lists betell as 'obsolete'.

Alan W

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Re: Betell/betold
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2021, 01:06:49 PM »
If I followed the reasoning I've used in the past, I'd probably reject betell/betelling/betold as too obscure and archaic.

However, in an earlier topic, pat made a strong case for accepting any "genuine word" that was listed in a reputable dictionary, and some other forumites wrote in support. I said then that perhaps I should be less restrictive, but that I'd still want to use my discretion. I'm not satisfied that the genuineness of a word is always a simple yes/no question.

As you say, pat, betell is not found in the 2-volume Shorter Oxford. As TRex says, it is in the OED, labeled as obsolete. The most recent usage example in the OED is from 1567.

The only online dictionaries listing it seem to be Wiktionary and various sites that mirror Wiktionary's contents. In the 14-billion word iWeb corpus, I found 11 examples of betold, but almost all of them seemed as though they should have been the two words be told, for example, "Chiasson was gratified to betold by a professional photographer..." Only one citation seemed to be using the word as defined: "For now, as betold unto me, I have become the greatest fisherman that has ever lived!"

In the same corpus I found one genuine example of betell: "Neophyte, thou has earned the right to wear the amulet given thee at the beginning of thy quest for princely manhood, which doth betell a heart that is both brave and true." This is from a Netherlands-based site concerned with Freemasonry.

In the word's favour, the Wiktionary entry does provide three usage examples, the most recent being from a 2009 novel by Dean Koontz:

Quote
The air pooled in stillness because the winds had died and would never breathe again, and the silence betold a world of solid stone, where the planetary core had gone cold, where no rivers ran and seas no longer stirred with tides, []

I suppose the ultimate test is that the word has been used by some writers to convey a meaning, and that meaning has been most likely understood by readers.

Betell, betold and betelling will be allowed in future, as rare words.
Alan Walker
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pat

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Re: Betell/betold
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2021, 06:07:38 PM »
Thanks, Alan.