Meddling with Mettle
Another of Daniel’s great words of the day, mettle, provoked readers’ comments that have in turn prompted me to get into the act.
Reader’s Comment 1
Mettle can also mean the “stuff of which a person is made.”
So if I say I’m made of mettle, people won’t think I’m a robot (or, more likely, delusional)?
I know that Peter was joking, but I just wanted to point out that although the word means “the stuff of which a person is made,” to say “I’m made of mettle” wouldn’t make sense.
Most commonly the word mettle is used with a verb like show, test, or prove:
Miami proves its mettle in win over Oklahoma
Bilo rugby boys show their mettle
NCC cadets test their mettle
Other idioms with mettle:
to be on your mettle: to be determined to prove that you are good at something, especially in a difficult situation
Nancy coach Paul Fischer knows his team must be on their mettle as they seek…
Study puts stents on their mettle. (in this case an inanimate object is being put on its mettle. Probably not an apt use of the expression.)
Here’s a headline that plays on the same pronunciation (and same original meaning) of mettle and metal:
Scrap thefts: Cops on their mettle
The adjective mettlesome means “lively, high-spirited, courageous.”
. . . M. Epailza, one of our most mettlesome adversaries…
The word seems to have some specialized meaning for gamers:
Copy this simulator to the mettlesome directory Run the Trainer. Start the mettlesome with this trainer.
I certainly can’t figure out what “mettlesome” is supposed to mean in this paragraph on a gaming site:
Buy wow characters, you are ensuring you can freely mettlesome without the hornlike slog. There’s no requirement to intend on the mettlesome an distance early than customary so you can conjoin for eve accounts you can go on at your connatural instance and savor the mettlesome to its flooded possible ness the aforementioned way thousands of others do. –INWOWGOLD.COM
Reader’s Comment 2
How about one who mettles in someone else’s business to the detriment of the relationship or the business?
One meddles in someone else’s business.
The usual sense of meddle these days is “to interfere,” as in these headlines:
Building chief tells politicians not to meddle in Olympics
Avoid the Temptation to Meddle in Haiti
How insurers meddle in your medical care
The word meddle comes from French and Latin words meaning “to mix.” The meaning “to concern oneself,” usually in a negative sense, dates from 1415. From 1340-1700 it was used as a euphemism for “to have sexual intercourse.” Shakespeare draws on this meaning in this exchange:
Third Servingman: How, sir! do you meddle with my master?
Coriolanus: Ay; ‘tis an honester service than to meddle with thy mistress. —Coriolanus: IV, 5
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