A Word for Wednesday

Micher - n, One who skulks, or creeps out of sight; a truant; an idler; a thief, etc.

I love finding fresh words to describe age-old things. It would be easier, of course, to just call a thief a thief and a truant a truant. But we're writers and easy is not our business. Not only that, but easy descriptions also quickly become boring, predictable ones. And that simply will not do. Fortunately for us, three-inch-thick wonders called dictionaries exist. Scanning the pages for unfamiliar words has to be one of my favorite things about Wednesdays.

I really like this word. Micher. I could hear it in dialogue the minute after I read the definition. I restrained myself from skipping right to the narrative and did some searching as to the history of the word. I found this passage from Nottinghamshire History:

"If [a boy's] companion is loitering in the street, he will tell you he is miching, and in so doing he uses one of the oldest words in the language, taking its derivation from the Old Norse mak, leisure—a term which even Shakespeare does not disdain to use:
‘Shall the blessed sun of heaven prove a micher?’ I Henry IV., ii. 4.
Spenser writes, ‘To straggle up and down the country, or miche in corners amongst their friends idly’; and in a pamphlet written in 1493 we find, ‘At such fayrs and markets there be many theyvs, mychers and cut-purses."

I think it's safe to say that we're in good company whenever we use this word, don't you? Oh, and the fact that it's derived from Old Norse only makes it better as far as I'm concerned. (I've mentioned that I have a fondness for the Vikings, haven't I?)

I've been itching to get to the narrative for this word so that's all you get as far as interesting factoids surrounding the word. The fact that the above passage is all I could find regarding "micher" is merely a happy coincidence ;)

"I was crouched in the shadow that hung beneath a window-opening of the building. The tread of the two men was coming closer. I tried to make my frame smaller than it was, desperately hoping the hair atop my head would not betray my presence. I could hear them searching for me - kicking at wineskins and rattling barrels - while the scent of fermenting grapes assaulted my nose. It began to itch, a sneeze building, just as voices sounded directly behind me. I pinched my nostrils together.

"Where is he?" one voice growled. "That micher will be the end of us. You know how the Signor is about his wine."

I curled the laden skin closer to my chest.

"We won't find him tonight," the second man said. "He'll be off in the vines by now. There'll be no finding him out there."

The man with the stony voice muttered something I couldn't make out. Their steps retreated into silence and still I dared not move. Not with my heart thrumming so loud that all of Italia could hear its noise. It was as loud as the first time I'd stolen from the Signor - proof that I was no micher by nature. I was only a boy who continued in this wrong because I needed to - not for pleasure or for gain. Those men didn't understand what drove me to the vineyard at an hour when decent folk slumber. They didn't know why I flirted with discovery for a single wineskin. They had no idea how much more precious the liquid was to me than to the Signor.

When night had reigned undisturbed for several long minutes, I darted off into the sprawling field of vines, dreading my inevitable return."


  1. Hi Caitlin

    What fascinating stuff. I'd never heard that word 'Micher,' and what an interesting passage to read.

  2. Isn't it? I'm having so much fun with these Wednesday Word posts.


  3. Another great post, Caitlin. I've never heard of that word before. Now I've got one more to add to my vocab. Thanks! ;)


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