This is a word much-disdained by spell-checking software - most brands insist the 'ro' should be an 'or'. But in just the same way that we bravely overrule the direction-Nazi inside the car GPS, so we should on occasion ignore the spell-checker. Most especially here, since froward is an ancient (14th century), respectable and rather beautiful-sounding word (it is pronounced with its first syllable rhyming with row, as in an argument). Moreover, its meaning renders it more than a little useful: it signifies

disposed to go counter to what is demanded or what is reasonable; perverse, difficult to deal with, hard to please; refractory, ungovernable; also in the wider sense, bad, evilly-disposed, "naughty".

We've had violent and dreadful weather in the American north-east this past few days, as Hurricane Irene has swept through ungovernably, from the Carolinas to Vermont. It would be entirely proper to describe our weather as froward, much as Lord Russell was once described as "froward, arrogant and mutinous." Nasty, bad, ill-disposed - Lords and hurricanes, all of a piece.


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  • John Bescherer

    Can I say that I look froward to battling my spellchecker?