During last year’s library winter sale, we came to own a complete set of the 1961 printing of the Oxford English Dictionary. That’s 13 volumes of pure, unadulterated motherfucking mid-20th century English. Unfortunately, we never really got around to using it for anything. It really is easier to just look stuff up on our phones.
Until last night. We hosted our first holiday party since we bought the house, and somehow a question about the difference between “flotsam” and “jetsam” came up. You will be pleased to know that, as of 1961, flotsam is defined as “such part of the wreckage of a ship or its cargo as is found floating on the surface of the sea.” Sometimes flotsam also refers to “newly ejected oyster-spawn.” Whatever that is. Jetsam, on the other hand, is defined as “goods thrown overboard from a ship in distress in order to lighten the vessel (and afterwards washed ashore).” They’re very similar in definition, but the key is that the former is wreckage while the latter is goods. Hmm. I wonder if these words are applicable to plane wrecks at sea.
Anyway, now you know this thing I have shared with you.