A few minutes ago, while reading the imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, I came upon this sentence: “After a little searching, he finds a gate within the pleached fence and enters.” Hmmm…could this be a typo?
MSWord red flags “pleached” as I type, but then MS has an exceedingly limited vocabulary. So I pull out Webster’s Collegiate and find a sorry two word definition (not even a complete line!): INTERLACE, PLAIT.
Oh, the world should not be so drab and succinct.
So I slide the Compact OED off the shelf and sift through its pages. My magnifying glass scans across page 1363 (subpage 1026) and finds two entries for “pleach,” one for “pleached,” and one for “pleacher.” (A full third of the subpage!)
But it is the verb form that delights.
1830 Tennyson Poems “…Pleached with her hair, in mail of argent light/ Shot into gold, a snake her forehead clips, [And skins the color from her trembling lips].”
And so tonight, as thunder shakes the walls in my city where thunder rarely visits, I find myself madly in love with the countless numbers of people who delved through entire libraries of English literature to find these gems that fuel my passion.
P.S. If you love words and you’ve never read The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester, read it. You’re in for a treat.