Printable Version
Pronunciation: kla(r)ht Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Lump of mud on the feet, shoes or anywhere else on your clothes or body. 2. The mud itself from which such lumps are formed.

Notes: English is a far-flung language comprising many dialects. In the dialect known as Geordie (remember the movie 'Wee Geordie'?), spoken in Northumberland around Newcastle-on-Tyne, you might be warned, "Divvent waak in the clarts", meaning "Don't walk in the mud". (Geordie is a Scottish affectionate form for 'George'.) If you do walk in the clarts, you will come home with clarty shoes or boots—or feet if you forgot to pull on your shoes or boots before going out.

In Play: Lumps usually do not fall away, if you think of lumps on your head or in your oatmeal. So, speaking of lumps of mud on your shoes tests the extent of lump's meaning. That is where clart comes in handy: "Get the clarts off your shoes and pants before you come inside," gets to the point quicker, and saves us two words. This term is sometimes used to refer to lumps of other substances, too.

Word History: Today's word has been around since at least the 13th century, but no one has any idea of its origin. It is distinguished from glar, a word it might be related to, by the thick consistency of its referent. However, glar has more of a liquid nature more likely to soak into your clothes. Clart must have been long in spoken use, for the compound verb beclart occurred rather frequently in the 13th century.

Dr. Goodword,

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