Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ambsace: Good or bad?

Ambsace, (pronounced, EYMZ-eys*) and Word of the Day for Sunday, July 31, 2011, is another of those now obscure words that have totally different meanings, depending on the context and usage. Here are 3 for you:
1. The smallest amount or distance.
2. The lowest throw at dice, the double ace (two ones.)
3. Bad luck; misfortune.
In the first instance, being at the smallest amount of distance can be good if the thing is desired, but if it is harmful like in this following example, it is not so good, is it? "We're within ambsace of being done." -- Jo Ann Ferguson, A Phantom Affair.
Likewise with the throw of a dice being the lowest, or coming up with double ones. I’ve played some board games where either is advantageous, and yet other games where it is deadly to your chances of winning. So again, it is all about context, rather than plain meaning.
Interestingly, Ambsace stems from the Old French ambes as, "both aces," which suits the second of the two dice illustrations in definition two, but has little obvious connection to the other two meanings, does it?
All of which means that, although it is highly unlikely you or I will ever come across the word ambsace in common usage, it is also good to always be on the watch for words with two or more different meanings and the context in which any and every word is being used. Thus once again we see that we always need to be careful, that what we think someone is meaning, is what they really mean and not our misunderstanding because we haven’t understood what they said in the proper context.
With the belief that you will understand the above in the proper context, I will close now.
* If you can pronounce that properly/comfortably, then you are doing better than me!

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