Word Confusion: Weald versus Wield

Posted October 3, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 13 October 2017

Yeahhh, no. I do realize that archaic or obsolete spellings can be interesting, but the closest weald and wield come is one has an a and the other has an i. Otherwise, noun versus verb?? Woods versus “weapon”?? It’s a no-brainer.

The only real difference between the intransitive and transitive verb form of wield is strictly based on if the verb is directly or indirectly affecting an object.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Weald Wield
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: weald and wield; The Weald

Rolling green fields surrounded by forest

“Fields North of Wickhurst Road, Weald” by Nigel Chadwick under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Paulus Hector Mair.- A fencer of African descent, wielding an early rapier or “sidesword”, De arte athletica, published in Augsburg, Germany, ca 1542.

“Two Fencers, One of African Descent, Wielding an Early Rapier” is from De arte athletica, Augsburg, Germany, ca 1542, by Paulus Hector Mair and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This image, from The Greatest African American and Afro-American Martial Artists in History, shows men wielding rapiers.

Part of Grammar:
Plural: wealds
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: wields
Past tense or past participle: wielded
Gerund or present participle: wielding

A formerly wooded district of southeastern England situated between the parallel chalk escarpments of the North and the South Downs that included parts of Kent, Surrey, and East Sussex and is now an agricultural region

Wooded or uncultivated country

Verb, intransitive:
To exercise power, authority, influence, etc., as in ruling or dominating

To use a weapon, instrument, etc. effectively

  • Handle or employ actively

[Archaic] To guide or direct

[Archaic] To govern

  • Manage

Verb, transitive:
To handle or use a weapon, tool, etc.

To exert or maintain power or authority

[Obsolete] To rule

The Weald, to the Saxons of AD 900, was part of Andredesweald (the forest of Andred and the Roman fort at Pevensey), that stretched from the marshes of Kent to the New Forest in Hampshire.

The Weald encompasses the Lancaster Great Park formed in 1372 and renamed as the Ashdown Forest in 1672.

The High Weald stretches north from Tonbridge, southeast to Rye (south towards Hastings), and to Horsham on the west.

“It is said, that within the Weald the proof of wood lands having ever paid tithe lies on the parson, to entitle him to take tithe of it, contrary to the usual custom in other places, where the proof of the exemption lies on the owner” (British History Online).

North Weald Bassett is a village near Epping Forest.

Verb, intransitive:
Jenkinson has the veto power, however much power Dantirya Sambail may wield.

Verb, transitive:
Wielding his pen, Wilt Chamberlain signed the basketball.

He wields his authority with ease.

She wielded an iron rod in the schoolroom.

She wielded the fire hose with all the skill she had acquired.

Adjective: wealden Adjective: wieldable, unwieldable
Noun: wielder
History of the Word:
Old English in a variant of wald meaning forest, which evolved into the Middle English weeld; cognate with German Wald. Before 900, the Old English wieldan meaning to control is a derivative of wealdan meaning to rule; cognate with the German walten, the Old Norse valda, and the Gothic waldan and in Middle English, welden. And akin to the Latin valēre meaning to be strong, prevail.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

This photograph of the re-enactment of The Battle of Hastings is Antonio Borrillo’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons. It was cropped and leveled in Photoshop.