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8 August 2011

Monday's Word - Tagarene

No, that's not my desk. (Although I have to admit there are times when it gets pretty close to it.)

This is a good illustration of 'Tagarene' (or clutter)

My source of wisdom when it comes to all things wordly, Michael Quinion* states:

"You're unlikely to know this word - variously spelled - unless you come from north-east England, especially the Newcastle area. But it
does occasionally pop up in prose that gains a wider audience..."
"...A tagarene shop was a kind of junk shop, sometime specialising in old clothes but often carrying a much wider range of miscellaneous oddments, particularly marine scrap. The tagarene man who ran it
did much of his trade with ships..."

"...Such collections of bric-a-brac, oddments and general detritus were likely to have made a tagarene shop an excessively untidy place and it's easy to see how the phrase came to refer to a muddle.

Nobody knows its origin. The Oxford English Dictionary tentatively suggests it's based on "tag". Local people remember "tagger" in the sense of marine scrap, though the evidence doesn't show whether it's the origin of "tagarene" or a shortening of it. One suggestion is that it's Arab in origin. Some Moors in north Africa have that name; it's been proposed that it was adopted by them after they had been expelled from Spain in medieval times. (A link to "Tangerine", a person from Tangiers, which gave its name to the orange exported from that city, is improbable.) It's unlikely to be true, but the suggestion isn't as daft as it sounds, because the Newcastle area has long had an Arab community."

So, is your desk clean or a bit of a tagarine? And do you find it easier to write in a clutter, or have everything on your desk neat and tidy?

*World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion 2011. All rights reserved The  original post can be found at:  http://www.worldwidewords.org

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