A Word for Wednesday

Before I get to the last O word of the year, I want to take a quick moment to apologize to all my faithful readers. I have been sadly neglecting all of you, both here on my blog and on all of yours. I will catch up on reading and commenting on all the insightful and amusing and educational and wonderful things I'm sure you've been sharing. It'll probably take me a while at this rate, but I'll get there. Graduation is around the corner, and once I'm done being a full time student, you'll see me around on a more regular basis. So bear with me until then :) In the meantime, I have another word for you.

Oxlike - a. Resembling an ox

I kid ;) That's not actually today's word. But I've come across so many of those kind of circular definitions that I had to share one of them. Oxlike means that something looks like an ox? Really? That's genius. The last pages of the O section were literally filled likewise self-explanatory words. I was hoping (again) to use the last entered word, but

Oyster-woman - n. A woman whose occupation is to sell oysters

isn't exactly useful or a particularly interesting word. So, I ended up picking today's word because I like tone of the definition, and because I can hear it in a story. And since I'm slowly sinking in a swamp of schoolwork, I'm taking the short and sweet route. Here it is:

Oyes - [Fr. oyez, hear ye] This word is used by the sheriff or his substitute in making proclamation in court, requiring silence and attention. It is thrice repeated, and most absurdly pronounced, O yes.

The American Heritage Dictionary had an interesting note on the origin of this word. It says, "The courtroom cry "Oyez, oyez, oyez," has probably puzzled more than one auditor, especially if pronounced "O yes." (Many people have thought that the words were in fact O yes.) This cry serves to remind us that up until the 18th century, speaking English in a British court of law was not required and one could instead use Law French, a form of French that evolved after the Norman Conquest, when Anglo-Norman became the language of the official class in England. Oyez descends from the Anglo-Norman oyez, the plural imperative form of oyer, "to hear"; thus oyez means "hear ye" and was used as a call for silence and attention. Although it would have been much heard in Medieval England, it is first recorded as an English word fairly late in the Middle English period, in a work composed around 1425."

I wasn't able to find the work mentioned above, but I was able to find a treasure trove of examples in A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors. It's a twenty-one volume collection complied by a certain T.B.Howell, Esq. in London, published in 1816. I won't post all of them, but I'll give you a smattering.

"Serjeant at Arms: Oyes, Oyes, Oyes! Our sovereign lord the king strictly charges and commands all manner of persons to keep silence, upon pain of impisonment."

"Serjeant at Arms: Oyes, Oyes, Oyes! Lieutenant of the Tower of London , bring forth your prisoner to the bar, according to the order of the House of Lords to you directed."

"Serjeant at Arms: Oyes, Oyes, Oyes! Our sovereign lord the king does strictly charge and command all manner of persons here present, and that have here attended, to depart hence in the peace of God, and of our soveriegn lord the king; for his grace my lord high steward of Great Britain intends now to disolve his commission."

I'm sure the serjeant of arms got tired of saying "oyes, oyes, oyes" before whatever else he was supposed to say, but I like it. It's very official sounding. And if you throw a British accent in, it sounds even better. Now to use it myself...

"I couldn't see him.

I squirmed around two men with pudgy legs and shiny shoe buckles.

I had to see him.

There were black coats, and powdered wigs, and heeled shoes, and fancy pocket watches everywhere. They were all crowding me and I couldn't get past them. I needed to get past them. I spied the pews up ahead and pushed and shoved until I got to them. I started crawling under them. Someone stepped on my fingers once. Is this what mice felt like when they tried to cross the roads when the carriages were running? I heard someone curse and pulled my feet up under the pew as fast as I could. I waited for someone to bend over and see what had tripped them. If they found me, I would be in trouble. But no one did so I started crawling again.

There he was. I stayed there under the first pew in the courtroom, but I could see him at last. He looked tired. He never looked tired. There were two soldiers by him, one on each side. They were holding his arms. I wanted him to look at me. Wished for him to look at me.

A sharp rap sounded and the courtroom filled with lords. Father watched them come in. I watched them too. What were they going to do to him?

"Oyes, Oyes, Oyes!" a man I couldn't see called out. "Our sovereign lord the king strictly charges and commands all manner of persons to keep silence, upon pain of impisonment."

Everyone stopped talking. No one even whispered.

"Oyes, Oyes, Oyes! Lieutenant of the Tower of London, bring forth your prisoner."

One of the soldier men brought Father forward and put him in a little booth. Some other man stood up and started talking. He accused Father. He called him a traitor.

"You're lying!" I scrambled out from under the pew and ran at him. "Father loves the king, he would never betray him. You lier!"

Someone was holding me back. I kept flailing and shouting, "Let him go. He didn't do anything. You have to let him go!"

Someone picked me up. I started kicking, but it was no use. They were taking me away. I couldn't stop them. And Father, he couldn't stop them either. The soldiers had crossed spears in front of him.


  1. You had me worried there for a moment with 'oxlike' great word once again and beautiful use :)

  2. How funny that it's pronounced as "O yes". Can you imagine being in court and being unfamiliar with it, and have someone be screaming, "Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes, bring forth the prisoner" as if they're madly happy to have the prisoner come out? LOL!

  3. Jen - I couldn't resist the chance to mess with you all for just a second :) Thank you!

    Cherie - Isn't it though? I can imagine and it sounds like the kind of demented delight you'd expect from the Reign of Terror, but it's just a normal court procedure, lol.


Do share your thoughts - I enjoy reading them :)