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June 9, 2011

Mal by name, mal(odorous) by nature?

Reviewing Words is one of RoT’s weaker limbs, it is acknowledged, but this is one of those reviews, so shut up. Malodorous. Mallllllllodorous. Say it. Let your tongue get inside it, as deep as it can, and probe its furthest reaches. There’s no mystery about the definition of this word; all but the densest language learner knows that it means smelly. But how it victimises that simple adjective. Malodorous injects a hearty dose of vindictiveness into the art of being stinky. Think of the other mals: malicious, malignant, Mal from Neighbours, the worst Kennedy sibling. Mal isn’t just bad – it’s evil. It sets out to purposefully destroy everything it touches. Think of a person who is smelly. What do you imagine? A hapless tramp, perhaps, or a kindly charity shop volunteer?  It’s somebody who’s got a heart of gold, but just happens to have a whiff about them. Now imagine a malodorous person. That’s right: they look like the childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. They almost certainly have fingerless gloves and, as well as possessing a potently repulsive stench, like to steal toys from children and beat up old people.

Verdict: all hail the word that elevates smelly people to the level of SuperVillain.


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