Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Tuckamore




~~~North Harbour, Southern Shore, in the rain.~~~


Sometimes the most miserable of things are given the most glorious of names. I mean look at this:


tuckamore n also tuckamil, tucken-more, tuckermel, tuckermill, tuckermore DC ~ Nfld (1895-). For tucken-more, see TUCKING BUSH and MORE n. See also TUCK2. (a) Small stunted evergreen tree with gnarled spreading roots, forming closely matted ground-cover on the barrens; also attrib; (b) collectively, low stunted vegetation; scrub.
1863 MORETON 31 Tucken-mores. Small low-grown shrubs and creeping plants. 1866 WILSON 37 In the hollows are the tuckermore bushes, which is a dwarf juniper, with strong branches at right angles to the stem, and closely interlacing each other: the tops of these bushes are level, as if they had been clipped. To walk upon these tuckermores, or penetrate their branches, is equally impracticable. 1868 HOWLEY MS Reminiscences 9 The country is nearly level with scarcely any woods except occasional patches of tucking bushes (Tuckamores). 1891 PACKARD 84 Half-way down, as [the vale] widens out, [it becomes] choked with a stunted spruce and fir growth, or what the people call 'tucking,' or 'tuckermel-bush.' 1895 J A Folklore viii, 39 ~ , in some places tuckamil, a clump of spruce, growing almost flat on the ground and matted together, found on the barrens and bleak, exposed places. Ibid viii, 288 I drawed down to the tuckamores aside the pond and got twict thirty and varty yards from un. I lets drive and the loo' dove. 1919 GRENFELL2 229 He had gone through his snow racquets and actually lost the bows later, smashing them all up as he repeatedly fell through between logs and tree-trunks and 'tuckamore.' 1927 RULE 70 Travelling alongshore between Bonne Bay and Cow Head, I sometimes used the sloping surface of tuckermill as a couch to rest upon. 1970 Evening Telegram 21 May, p. 3 We proceeded as usual to the Witless Bay Line ... and from thence some 13 miles on foot in over the tuckamores. C 70-12 Tuckamore is a sort of low bush which grows in the marshes and in the small valleys. It is in the tuckamore that the path of a rabbit is most likely to be found. 1971 NOSEWORTHY 258 Tuckamoors or tuckamoor trees [are] low bushes on the barrens, about knee-high. 1981 Evening Telegram 17 Oct, p. 8 A good (and bad) cross-section of ptarmigan habitat (i.e. prostrate balsam, tuckamores, high plant or shrub cover, open tundra, rock exposures, marshes, etc).


Yes, we're talking about a stunted little shrub.. Growing all over the barrens here. I guess what throws me off is the “more” attached to it. “More” in the Irish language is “big”. So when I first heard the term “tuckamore” I envisioned enormous trees. Far from it.

Try as I might, I can't find the origin of the name. But I note that there is a Tuckamore Lodge, along with a Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival and even a Tuckamore Capital Fund here.

A great word, not living up to expectations by any stretch of the imagination.

Today's post brought to you by the letter T from The Dictionary of Newfoundland English in partnership with the rest of the alphabet beginning here.











13 comments:

  1. Yes, tuckamore suggests something rather grandiose to me too. A stunted little shrub would be more a tuckabit. Or whatever is the Irish for bonsai.

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  2. Sorry, I meant the Newfoundlandish.

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  3. I love this word - and I love the stunted trees - to me they represent survival in adversity. I guess I think of tuck - as in hunkering down against the wind and weather.

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  4. A cousin of the sycamore tree? May be that could be the origin of the 'more'.

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  5. Here I thought its origin was Italian as in:When the moon hits your eye like a bigga pizza pie tuck amore.

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  6. In my book tuckabeag would be more suitable to the description, but it does not have the same ring to it as tuckamore.

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  7. It sounds vaguely Australian - I'm thinking of "Down came a jumbuck to drink beside the billabong
    Up jumped the swagman and seized him with glee
    And he sang as he tucked jumbuck in his tuckerbag
    You'll come a waltzing matilda with me."


    But no, somehow it's a word with no clear match to a stunted tree.

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  8. Nick:
    I'm delighted it was commandeered by the Chamber Music Festival here.
    :)
    XO
    WWW

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  9. Linda:
    I am delighted you put such a positive spin on it!
    XO
    WWW

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  10. Ramana:
    Nice try but it looks nothing like the sycamore.
    XO
    WWW

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  11. Yes I'm in the school of tuckabeg also. Great new word you thought up there, missus!
    XO
    WWW

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  12. Between Italiano and Aussie today, I'm fair bushwacked and gelato'ed.
    :)
    XO
    WWW

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