wheemed

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wheemed

Post by Shelley » Tue Jun 28, 2005 7:25 pm

Andrew glanced quickly down upon a horned, bruised anvil; and laid his hand flat against the cold, wheemed iron; . . . – "A Death in the Family", James Agee.
So far, I don’t find WHEEMED in the dictionary. As a poet, Agee was licensed to make up new words: the sound of wheemed might suggest a definition. Does anyone know what this is?
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Post by Phil White » Tue Jun 28, 2005 8:47 pm

The sound made by sharpening a cutthroat razor on a strop, hence "sharp"?

This also explains the reason that "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" is often sung by barber shop quartets:
"a-wheem, a-wep, a-wheem, a-wep, a-wheem, a-wep, a-wheem, a-wep, ...."
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wheemed

Post by spiritus » Wed Jun 29, 2005 11:33 am

Shelley,

More then likely Agee has taken poetic license and created a derivative of the transitive verb form of the word, whet.

Whet --- Middle English whetten, from Old English hwettan; akin to Old High German wezzen to whet, waz sharp
Date: before 12th century

1 : to sharpen by rubbing on or with something (as a stone) or anvil ( italics are mine ) <whet a knife>

- whet·ter noun

'Wheemed', in the context you gave, sounds more descriptive and less confusing; conveying the feel of iron and stone, worn and pitted by the constant rubbing of metals against its surface; in contrast to "whettered".
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Post by russcable » Wed Jun 29, 2005 1:25 pm

No one wheems to have mentioned this rather odd word anywhere on the Internet other than a couple of rather obvious typo's (like mine above ^_^). Usually an odd word like this in such a popular work would at least least appear in a vocabulary list or book report on some educational site. Anyone have a copy of this and up for checking whether it's a mis-print in Shelley's edition? Perhaps it's like the episode of "Jonathon Creek" where the man killed himself because a comma-shaped insect walking across the page turned his love letter into a "Dear John" letter,
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Post by Phil White » Wed Jun 29, 2005 2:16 pm

The only handle I have is that the DVD of the Gutenberg Project has what appears to be a list of all words in a particular folder, and the list contains "wheem", but not a single document on Gutenberg does so. My guess would be a coinage or a typographical error, and with respect to the first, Che and I appear to have the same gut reaction.

I did actually toy with the idea of "reamed", but rejected it.

In context, it's odd if it is a coinage, as it appears to suggest (to my ears at least) something along the lines of constant rubbing/filing/honing/whetting, but that really doesn't fit in with an anvil at all.
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wheemed

Post by Ken Greenwald » Wed Jun 29, 2005 4:23 pm

Gentlemen, I did a digital search of ‘A Death in the Family’ and WHEEMED does appears on page 180 as stated above. I checked the OED and WHEEM is a word which is listed as a variation of ‘queme.’ And looking through the list below, I would guess that the meaning might have been something like ‘made smooth’ (possibly related to ‘made sharp’ as Phil suggests above).

QUEME adjective (obsolete except northern dialect): Forms: cweme, queme, quem, qwem, queeme, quim Scottish), queem (Scottish), wheme, wheeme, wheam, WHEEM, whim, weam, weme.

1a) obsolete: Pleasing, agreeable, acceptable ‘to’ a person. (In early use with dative of person.)

1b) Of pleasing appearance; specious; beautiful, fair; neat, tidy.
<1883 “Weam, weme, . . .tidy . . . ‘A nice little weme packet.’”—in Almondb. & Huddersf. Glossary>
1c) Closed against or protected from the wind, snug; unruffled, SMOOTH.
<1674-91 “Words, Wheam, WHEEM, near, close, so as no wind can enter it.”— ‘Collection of Words of the Northern Counties’ by John Ray>

<1824 “Dream that the ocean's queem”—‘The Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia’ (1876) by Mactaggart, page 391>
2) Fit, fitting, suitable; convenient, handy; near at hand, close. Construction with ‘to’ or dative.
<1674-91 “Wheam, WHEEM, . . . very handsome and convenient for one.”— ‘Collection of Words of the Northern Counties’ by John Ray>

<1812 “How WHEEM to Matty's elbow draws his chair.”—“Death of Roger’ in Gilpin Poetry of Cumberland’ by Wilkinson, page 206>

<1882. “Glossary, WHEEM, handy, convenient.”—‘Lancashire’>
3) Of persons: obsolete

a) Friendly or well-disposed (‘to’), intimate (‘with’).

b) Quiet, still, etc.
<1873 Swaledale Glossary, “WHEEM, smooth, demure, still, slyly quiet, mock-modest.”— ‘Swaledale Glossary’>

<1883 “Weam or Weme, quiet . . . ‘A weme woman in a house is a jewel.’”— in Almondb. & Huddersf. Glossary>
. c) (obsolete, rare). Skilled, clever; smart, active.
<1611 “‘Adroit,’ . . . Handsome, nimble, WHEEME, readie or quicke [etc.].”—‘A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues’ by Randle Cotgrave>
____________________

Ken G – June 29, 2005
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Post by Shelley » Wed Jun 29, 2005 6:10 pm

Thanks all, and especially Ken. The word felt like "smoothed" or "worked over" to me. Your answer has made my day!
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Post by spiritus » Thu Jun 30, 2005 1:23 am

Thanks Ken,
Your answer has ruined my day! ( This may just be due to my wheemingly flawed perception of reality. )
But it does make clear why your name may correctly be followed by the word 'expert'. "G"
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Re: wheemed

Post by John » Mon Aug 17, 2020 5:01 pm

Is there any evidence to suggest that "wheemed" has something to do with the sound AND smoothing/forming effect of whacking or wheeming away at something on an anvil? For some reason this possible combo reminds me of superb descriptions such as "angry gratitude," that Agee used.
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Re: wheemed

Post by Shelley » Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:26 pm

John, I think you've hit the anvil on the wheeming . . . uh, place. Since this discussion happened, I've discovered Agee was a gifted screen-writer, prize winner, laureate, and the answer to clues in countless crossword puzzles. He could make up any word he wanted to, as far as I'm concerned!
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