Being a “California Girl” I spent a fair amount of time in the surfing community, raising my sun-bleached blonde surfer boys, when cowabunga, super swells, and hang ten,* peppered their chatter.
Of course, for most colloquial terms we can’t point to any one person, day, or event that gave it birth, so as a writer, I like to dream up a scenario … gnarly.
What, in the name of gnarly waves, could have instigated that surf exclamation? Welllllll, what about … close your eyes … and first envision a green flag of tree leaves waving in the wind, the tree’s limbs gently caressing puffy clouds in a soft blue sky …
Run your hand down its grainy brown trunk, feeling every chunk of bark that lay smoothly against its ringed inner core … bump! Oh … we hit a knur.
KNUR (nʉr) n. – a knot, as on the trunk or branch of a tree. [WW #61; 1 of 3]
KNURL (nʉrl) n. 1) a knot, knob, nodule, etc.; 2) any of a series of small beads or ridges, along the edge of a coin or on a dial; 3) (SCOT) a short, thickset person. [WW #61; 2 of 3]
KNURLY (- ē) adj. – full of knurls, as wood; gnarled. [WW #61; 3 of 3]
Aha! We stumbled on the word, gnarl. An apparent synonym for knurl. And what in heaven’s name were the Scots thinking when they slipped a woodland term over a body? I bolded the meanings in my mind … and then …