Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Unraveling the many meanings of Skein

I was listening to Sue-Belinda Meehan's show "Adventures in English" on ABC radio the other night,  and one of her callers discussed the term 'Skein Dubh' meaning a kind of Scottish knife.  

As an avid embroiderer, I was amazed by this use of the word skein, which to me has always been a bundle of embroidery floss.  I thought I'd investigate further and I found a range of interesting meanings to skein:
  • anything wound in or resembling a coil, like hair.
  • a flock of geese or ducks, in a v shaped formation of flight.
  • a series of similar or interrelated things
  • a mathematical concept(skein relation), and
  • the name of a comic book supervillain 
It's so enlightening when you learn something new about something you thought you already knew.

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