Thursday, February 21, 2013

Word of the Day -- Spiel

Spiel:  a voluble line of often extravagant talk : a speech delivered especially to sell or promote something.

Today's word has a special place in my heart.  When I was in Germany as a youth, I played tennis with a friend of mine's uncle.  He was a good player and he took me to his club, with lots of clay courts.  We started playing and after the first game, he bellowed: "Spiel".  Not knowing exactly what he meant, I looked oddly at him.  So he said in broken english, "That means game.  I won the first game." And so I became used to the other meaning of the word.  But it turns out that this definition of the word isn't expressly pointed out in merriam's; however it does give the gist and an interesting explanation of the word.

There's more than one "spiel." Today's use of the word is well-known, and many people may also be aware that "spiel" can be used as a verb for the act of talking extravagantly. But did you know that the verb can also mean "to play music"? That, in fact, was the word's original meaning — one it shares with its German root, "spielen." ("Spiel" is also found in "glockenspiel," a musical instrument similar to the xylophone.) In Scottish English, "spiel" is also sometimes used as a shortened form of "bonspiel," a name for a match or tournament of the icy game of curling.

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