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Sooterkin

Definition: Failure, or a fable rat-like creature woman can, supposedly, give birth to

Pronunciation: SOOTR-kin

Synonyms: monstrous, ugly (this really is only my way of viewing the word), abortion, failure

Origin:

18th century, Holland. The rest of the details are found in the next section!

Why this word?

Disclaimer: THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE A NICE POST (or a nice word)

Okay, so here we go. Since today is my birthday, I was trying to find a new unused word to prove at least somewhat celebratory. Turns out- no such thing is available (we already wrote about noel and it really has to do with Christmas). But the search brought up this lovely word and I thought what the heck…

In the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, sooterkin is attributed to the tendency of Dutch women sitting on stoves to keep warm during the winter, but the Dutch women weren’t the only one to figure out the warmth of the stove- many animals, big or small, did that too. I can see how this could become a joke if a woman, sitting on the stove, would stand up and at the same time scare away a rat comfortably resting behind here. Both running about at the same time could be a funny way to coin sooterkin and laugh about her giving birth to it. However, it was not a joke.

Some eminent doctors of the day tend to believe this is, well, actually true. John Maubray, in his “The Female Physician”, claimed that newborns look a lot like what their mothers dream of while pregnant or are close with while pregnant. In the same chapter he warns future mothers not to have pets, of any sort, and beware of vermin especially during pregnancy- AS THEY ARE AT RISK OF GIVING BIRTH TO ONE since the mental impression of seeing one is so strong!

Not kidding.

Later on sooterkin was used as a synonym to abortion, an abortive scheme or any other sort of a failed plan. At least we can see why!

How to use the word sooterkin in a sentence?

Although initially meant for newborns, please do not use this one to describe anyone’s baby (but Rosemary’s baby).

“Wow! Her surprise party was a complete sooterkin! Actually, thank god no one showed up as there was no food at all…)

Oh- and happy birthday to me!

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Written by Victoria Sheinkin

Victoria Sheinkin is a writer, content editor, translator and chief editor for UnusedWords.com. Speaking three and a half languages, she holds two BAs from the Tel Aviv university- Communication and jounalism, English literature and linguistics.

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