Mixed Colored Jam

Today’s words have me envisioning a rather large bowl with stripes of different jams– strawberry and cherry and apple and orange marmalade and plum and peach,  swirling rainbow like.     Yet I can’t help but think that a few good strokes with a spoon could turn that rainbow into a truly mixed mess that might taste just awful.

I’m find it difficult to focus on today’s words,  as #definethis  today has me raising a hue and cry,  though only because I mistook hew for hue.    For such short words these two have a number of meanings and seemingly endless potential for mis-understanding.    While in modern usage a hue is a shade of color, it turns out that the old expression is ‘hue and cry’  (rather than ‘hew and cry’).    I was not able to determine to my satisfaction how the word for a tone of color became associated with calling out a criminal on his actions,  however I suppose that it is in some sense more sensible than using a word that means to cut with an axe or to adhere to principles.   Or perhaps not.   I suppose I could say that I remain mixed up about hew and hue.

When I was growing up in Louisiana in the 1960’s and 1970’s  colored was the “polite” word for referring to those whose skin was brown.   These days,  here in the United States anyway,  the preferred term would probably be African American.   I find myself wondering what term might be considered polite in England or in Europe,  since those folks certainly are not Americans of any stripe.   While using the word colored in this context today would not doubt sound dated,  it would still be a lot better than using the ‘n’ word,  which is always an insult,  even if it is used in reference to someone with pale pigmentation and spendthrift habits.

While fruit preserves were the first thing to come to mind on hearing the word jam,  a jam can also be most any sort of trouble or predicament a body can get into.    I can recall jam being referred to refer to everything from an unexpected pregnancy to a budget shortfall.    It seems to me, all things considered, I’d much prefer to have a biscuit with strawberry preserves than to be dealing with an unwanted bun in the oven or a serious lack of money.  And finally today my thanks so Savio Sebastian  who suggested today’s words and to Lady Disdain whose plum jam coats the spoon in today’s image.



36 comments on “Mixed Colored Jam

  1. Looks like the modern definition of hue is derived from “hewe” which held the same meaning and was used prior to 900A.D. and before the other definition which is still accurate originated circa 1250 A.D.

    • Oh! Thank you so much. I am sort of a pretend word geek, and I do love words and know an awful lot of them. But to tell you the truth I probably would never have researched it enough to come up with those dates. Thanks so much for enlightening us!

  2. Alan, we have a real synchronicity today as you discuss the hues and cries of the world, and you posted a comment on one of the Group of Seven’s amazing use of colours and tones. Time now to jam to some music. Have a fantastic weekend.

    • well, you may recall that the titles of these posts are the one part of each post that I do not write or make up. If you left a comment with a three word suggestion…..it’s entirely possible that I might just take it up 🙂

  3. I saw the tile of this post and thought exactly as you did, “I wonder what mixed colored jam would taste like”? I was thinking blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, apricot, etc. Then……..I thought, it would probably be brown and not too appetizing. I do think the berries would be a nice blend, though and would most likely be a beautiful shade of purple jam 🙂

    • mmmm. Certainly you could make jam with several different berries and come up with a unique and wonderful flavor. You might have to experiment, and live with some less than optimal results before coming up with a great recipe.

  4. It is fun to puzzle over the etymologies of little words like jam. I suspect that many meaning of jam relate back to squeezing things together. The racial overtones of mixed & colored again cause me to consider how fluid our language continues to be.

    • with the exception of dead languages, language is a living, breathing and evolving sort of thing. We might have quite a discussion about whether or not Latin is really a dead language. (The Catholic church uses it even today as a common language that all religious speak, so that they might speak with each other, whatever their native tongue.)

      • Sometimes as words evolve I can make sense of the evolution like I mentioned with Jam. Other times I feel confused as did you with hew & hue. How did the meaning change from chopping to a color?

        I am also convinced that language shapes people just as people shape language. It is very difficult to think of a thing that does not have a word. Many have speculated that that is why real novelty is difficult.

      • Mmmm. Harold, it sounds as though we agree that words matter. It also sounds as though we both well understand that language is a living thing, and must necessarily constantly evolve.

  5. I like how much you enjoy the English language. Being a Canadian, I don’t encounter many situations where I must refer to a person’s ethnic background. In fact it has no bearing on how I interact with, or speak of, any people. However when I do I find that there is a need to describe someone’s physical appearance; there is no stigma and no shame in using the term(s) ‘black person’, ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Since,as you pointed out they are not Americans.

    • Western Washington is one of the least diverse places I’ve ever lived. I almost never have reason to refer to anyone’s race either, but most people I encounter in person day to day are white like me.

  6. jam can also refer to a mechanism getting stuck. versatile word, ideal territory for a versatile guy like yourself. have a great weekend!

    • Indeed. Another great usage for jam. (Remembering all of the times I unjammed the xerox machine at the office to prevent a fire hazard 🙂 (and yes calling the machine by that brand name dates me 🙂

      • You probably remember the “It’s just as good as a Xerox… it IS a Xerox” ad campaigns then. We have a Xerox workcenter device (copy/scan/fax/network) at work, so you’re not as dated as you think 🙂

      • I remember seeing actual Xerox machines in offices as a child. By the time I actually worked in an office, the photocopier in the Printer Room was actually made by some other company. Once upon a time no office desk was complete without an IBM Selectric typewriter on it. But honestly, when was the last time You saw a piece of office equipment made by IBM? (I know they still make laptops and stuff, but I honestly haven’t seen anything IBM myself in ages)

  7. In my mind I see a long string of traffic, three wide, not going anywhere. The sun is shining and the colors bouncing from the cars and trucks are also reflecting spectacularly from the windows.

  8. Pingback: Mixed Colored Jam « Laitom’s Blog

  9. Mixed colored jam brought to mind thick chocolate cake oozing strawberry or rasberry jam – the it switched to a jam session with my son playing his guitar along with his friends of mixed descent. Strange what words do in the mind.

    • mmm. sort of like the cake I used as the image in yesterday’s post, but with chocolate cake instead of sponge cake. I am rather envisioning a dark chocolate cake with orange marmalade and tons of whipped cream between the layers. Mmmmm.

  10. the n-word is definitely still an insult. they say a word only has meaning, by the meaning/power you give it. but the historical context of it, for me, just runs too deep. i don’t even like when my friends use it to address me or others, i believe it’s ignorant. language is funny though. i do find it also interesting how in different cultures, yes means no and vice versa.

  11. Because I try not to think about food (yes, that’s why) jam to me means the sort of thing I am really good at, like jamming drawers half-way shut, or jamming zippers half done up, or jamming keys in locks (I don’t need to go on, do I?). It is because I attack mechanical things with gusto, while thinking about something completely different (the next blogpost, say).. Machines like to be cajoled, spoken to nicely, wheedled, But I really don’t have time for that – so they gang up on me and jam!

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