Weird Words and Why They Matter: Gride

Every so often I pause to appreciate the miracle that my parents didn’t strangle me before I reached adulthood. For example, when my brothers and I were young, we parked our bikes between the cars. The sparkly rubber on one of my handlebars had chipped off, exposing the metal edge. At that age, I had a big enough attention span for one goal: get my bike out of the garage. Leaving the cars intact never crossed my mind. I can picture my father wincing as he recalls my bike griding against the maroon paint of his Saturn. The scar of that wound remained well past the day I drove the car myself.

The Word

Gride means to “scrape or grate with a rasping sound,” but it can also be a noun referring to the noise itself. [1] Its gravel rumbles in my throat as I prolong its one syllable: grrrrrrrride. This word comes to us from the Middle English girden, to pierce, its original meaning. Edmund Spencer (1552-1599), an English poet, popularized the word. He is famous for his allegorical poem The Faerie Queene, written in what became the Spencerian stanza.[2]

Why it Matters

This fall I committed more adult car damage. While driving to a convention, I heard not a gride, but a squeal, a honk, and a crunch. I was fine; my car was not. Psychologically we were the reverse. As a salvage title, that car was accustomed to being a malfunctioning nuisance, but this was my first accident. Weeks afterward, I still couldn’t grasp the wheel without my stomach rioting like an engine struggling to start. My grandmother offered words of wisdom, as grandmothers are wont to do:

“Picture an angel sitting in the back seat when you drive.”

I should have called her earlier.

While the damage appeared no greater than a fender bender, the powers that be declared our vehicle totaled. Thus my husband and I completed our transition into Montana citizenship by purchasing a Subaru. It’s harder to find my car in the parking lot now.

This experience gave me a new perspective on gride. As grating as it is on the ears, a gride is better than a crash.

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[1] “Gride Definition and Meaning | Collins English Dictionary.” Accessed December 4, 2018. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/gride.

[2] “Edmund Spenser | English Poet.” EncyclopediaBritannica. Accessed December 4, 2018.https://www.britannica.com/biography/Edmund-Spenser.

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