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I'm an old-fashioned word that is rarely used
an example of Latin and English fused
Charles Lever used me, so did Dickens
and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - wow, the plot thickens!
You may be forgiven for mistaking me
for an ode to a German Christmas tree
If you think you know the answer, have a go
It's what you think, not what you know!

Clue

Seeing as you're stumped, I'll spin another verse
Maybe my first rap was a little terse
I didn't say the answer sounded like that tree
It's the ode you could mistake it for - do you see?

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is ode to a German Christmas tree referring to rot13(B Gnaaraonhz)? $\endgroup$ – Joe-You-Know Jun 18 '18 at 14:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @joe-you-know yes. $\endgroup$ – Astralbee Jun 18 '18 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ I have a word in mind that I believe fits the clues except for I do not have a resource for searching for the usage of that word in texts. Is there a "go-to" resource that would allow me to search the works of these authors? $\endgroup$ – Justin Heath Jun 18 '18 at 22:06
  • $\begingroup$ @JustinHeath When I looked up the word in an online dictionary I found quotes from all three authors I named, you could test your word out the same way. $\endgroup$ – Astralbee Jun 19 '18 at 8:32
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I think it's:

Tantamount

From Latin tantus, from tam "so;" + amonter "amount to, go up"
Similar to Tannenbaum, German for "fir tree."
"To have been indifferent to the companionship of the single gentleman would have been tantamount to being gifted with nerves of steel." -Charles Dickens
Used in Darker and Darker by Charles Lever
Surely used by Sir ACD!
What you think is tantamount to what you know.

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  • $\begingroup$ Again I have to give +1 for great reasoning. Not the answer I'm looking for though! You're thinking the right way though, so keep trying. $\endgroup$ – Astralbee Jun 18 '18 at 15:11
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I'm including among many backward bon mots the word

snob

I'm an archaic word that is rarely used an example of Latin and English fused

Disputably it originates from the Latin phrase sine nobilitate, meaning 'without nobility', but seems to have come from a term to describe cobblers.

Charles Lever used me, so did Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - wow, the plot thickens!

Charles Lever wrote The Snob Papers, Charles Dickens used it in Martin Chuzzlewit, as did Arthur Conan Doyle in The Poison Belt - see snob.

You may be forgiven for mistaking me for an ode to a German Christmas tree.

Referring to The Royal Tenenbaums - tannenbaum being German for fir tree. @Joe-You-Know

If you think you know the answer, have a go It's what you think, not what you know!

It is a snobbish attitude to value people not according to what they know.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for some great reasoning and attempting to address all the elements of the riddle! You are definitely thinking along the right lines, not the answer I am looking for though. $\endgroup$ – Astralbee Jun 18 '18 at 15:11
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I didn't want to answer this because I found the answer by searching the web for the three authors' names, restricting the domain name to that of a popular online dictionary. I also had some trouble relating some of the clues to the answer. But nobody else has answered correctly, so here it is.

The answer is

Opine

I'm an old-fashioned word that is rarely used

The word seems to have been most popular between the early 19th and early 20th centuries.

An example of Latin and English fused

Not sure about that one. I suppose that it is because some dictionary etymologies give the source as Latin, but the word didn't appear until late Middle English, so it's perhaps just as likely to have been formed directly from English opinion.

Charles Lever used me, so did Dickens
and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - wow, the plot thickens!

From http://www.dictionary.com/browse/opine.

  • Charles Dickens:

A pretty large pile of building, I opine, and a pretty long job! The Uncommercial Traveller

  • Arthur Conan Doyle:

The reason is, I opine, that each doth wait for his neighbour to make a move. Micah Clarke

  • Charles James Lever:

"I opine that the granddaughter should be got rid of," said the Colonel. Sir Brook Fossbrooke, Volume I.

  • Also Charles James Lever:

I opine that the same judgment might be passed upon a great many? A Day's Ride

You may be forgiven for mistaking me
for an ode to a German Christmas tree

By replacing "pine" with "Tannenbaum," opine becomes O Tannenbaum

If you think you know the answer, have a go
It's what you think, not what you know!

Opine means to hold an opinion, so it refers to what one thinks, not what one knows.

As to the hint,

I can only understand that it is intended to point away from the direction of words that resemble "Tannenbaum," but I do not understand the meaning of "it's the ode you could mistake it for."

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  • $\begingroup$ I was happy with this answer and tried to edit-in the missing elements for completeness. However my suggested edits to the answer to my own question were rejected, so I've temporarily unmarked this as the correct answer until all ambiguity is removed. $\endgroup$ – Astralbee Jun 22 '18 at 8:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Astralbee perhaps you should clarify in a comment rather than editing. I rejected the edit because (1) I did not realize that it was proposed by the asker of the question and (2) offering the Latin etymology of opine does not explain why one can consider the word to be "Latin and English fused." $\endgroup$ – phoog Jun 22 '18 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ $@$phoog - why not borrow from the suggested edit to make your answer more complete? There are outstanding questions in your answer that OP provided their explanation to; surely it's better to incorporate that, than to leave those questions open. — @Astralbee perhaps you could meet phoog halfway, so it doesn't look like you have retracted a checkmark on an answer that is correct in the essentials because you took offense to having a clarifying edit rejected. $\endgroup$ – Rubio Jun 25 '18 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Rubio Hi Rubio, I took no offense at all, just find it very odd that someone would get 99% of the answer correct and then argue over one of the details. It is a shame, but after allowing 3 days for phoog to include the details I handed to him I have decided to just answer the question myself. At this stage, Phoog knows the correct answer and I assume he has just lost interest in it. $\endgroup$ – Astralbee Jun 25 '18 at 8:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Astralbee I haven't at all lost interest in it. I was waiting for you to clarify the relationship between the Dictionary.com etymology and the clue "Latin and English fused." I still don't understand. $\endgroup$ – phoog Jun 25 '18 at 13:24
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The word I came up with is

Cognizance. An archaic term dating back to the 15th c., It has mixed Anglo-French roots and can be traced back to the Latin cogitare, "to think". Its use peaked in the 1840s and has been on the decline ever since.

It is used by Charles Lever in

Tom Burke of "Ours",

by Charles Dickens in

Hard Times,

and by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in

The Poison Belt.

Furthermore,

"Cognizance" sounds like "Coniferous", like a Christmas tree of Germanic origin would be.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer! Welcome to Puzzling.SE. $\endgroup$ – Chowzen Jun 18 '18 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ Good reasoning! Not the one, sadly. $\endgroup$ – Astralbee Jun 19 '18 at 8:33
  • $\begingroup$ I can't comment above due to reputation, but Project Gutenberg is a great resource for looking up the authors' works. $\endgroup$ – dissemin8or Jun 19 '18 at 14:13
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I'll take a shot:

Vesper

I'm an archaic word that is rarely used an example of Latin and English fused

Archaic word for evening, it actually means evening in classic Latin but also has more modern English usages for religious services.

Charles Lever used me, so did Dickens, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - wow, the plot thickens!

Only found the Dickens quote so far: The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Chapter 1: "The bells are going for daily vesper service, and he must needs attend it"

You may be forgiven for mistaking me for an ode to a German Christmas tree.

The Boy Scout Vesper is sung to the tune of O Tannenbaum.

If you think you know the answer, have a go It's what you think, not what you know!

Relating to the religious aspect, althought this could be a little controversial if so :)

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow, there's been so many great answers that really seem to fit the clues. It isn't the right answer I'm afraid. I hope when the right answer is revealed it will stand out as the only perfect match to the clues! $\endgroup$ – Astralbee Jun 20 '18 at 8:57
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The answer is:

Opine

An old-fashioned word that is rarely used

While not archaic, the word has fallen from all but extremely formal use.

an example of Latin and English fused

From Dictionary.com : "First recorded in 1575–85, opine is from the Latin word opīnārī to think, deem".

Charles Lever used me, so did Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - wow, the plot thickens!

These quotes were quite easy to confirm, being found on the same dictionary site quoted above:
"A pretty large pile of building, I opine, and a pretty long job!" - The Uncommercial Traveller, Charles Dickens
"The reason is, I opine, that each doth wait for his neighbour to make a move." - Micah Clarke, Arthur Conan Doyle
"I opine that the granddaughter should be got rid of," - Sir Brook Fossbrooke, Volume I, Charles James Lever

You may be forgiven for mistaking me for an ode to a German Christmas tree

The well-known German song O Tannenbaum is of course about a pine tree, and so could easily have been translated O Pine.

If you think you know the answer, have a go It's what you think, not what you know!

The meaning of "opine" is of course to hold or express an opinion.

RE: the hint

The first few answers that were received focused on looking for words that sounded a bit like "tannenbaum", which of course was not the point of that line. The clue was intended to point puzzlers to consider the title of the song rather than the name of the tree.

NB I don't normally like to answer my own puzzle, but the nearest answer was 99% of the way there and then apparently disagreed with some of the details that completed the puzzle. This is the complete answer, as intended.

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