enfeoff

Sesquiotica

“For my knightly service, what will you offer me?”

“Hmm. Some hasenpfeffer?”

“Eff off! That’s not enuf!”

“No fee.”

“No fee? Ff… Get stuffed.”

“I’ll enfeoff you.”

“You’ll what? Eff you too!”

“No, enfeoff.” (He writes it down.)

“Enf— that’s a rather naff word.”

“Look, I grant you the fee off some turf. I don’t pay, you just collect from the tenants. You get your own little fiefdom.”

“Mm… OK, but don’t make me spell it.”

Really, this word – its spelling is as much of a relic as the practice it names. It looks like some stuff written by Jules Feiffer set to music by Jacques Offenbach. In fact, it has just the right letters for its sound – if you take away two of them, and leave enfef. But that wouldn’t be much fun.

It’s not that we need the word that much anymore, not literally anyway…

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