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Darn a sock or sweater

Word Smith: Darn

“Darn,” said the student. “It’s safer around teachers, than DAMN! They get all wigged out about that word.” I challenged the student to tell me what DARN means. He looked at me quizzically. “What do you mean? It is just an acceptable way to not say a cuss word.”

I had some explaining to do…

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As Web Dictionaries define: To darn is to stitch up a small hole in a piece of clothing. Instead of throwing your worn-out socks away, you can just darn the holes in their toes.

When you darn your socks or sweaters, you use a needle and thread to close small holes in the woven fabric. There’s even a specific stitch known as a “darning stitch,” in which you first weave the thread with the grain of the fabric, and then fill in the other “woven” direction. The result is a sturdy patch made only of thread. Darn comes from the Middle French word darner, “to mend.” [1]

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Primary Meanings of darn

Full Definitions of darn

1. repair by sewing

darn socks”
Type of:
bushel, doctor, fix, furbish up, mend, repair, restoretouch on  restore by                 replacing a part or putting together what is torn or broken

2. sewing that repairs a worn or torn hole (especially in a garment)

Synonyms: mend, patch
Type of: sewing, stitchery
needlework on which you are working with needle and thread

3. something of little value

Synonyms: hoot, red cent
Type of: ineptitude, worthlessness
having no qualities that would render it valuable [2]

You have to go to the Urban Dictionary to find the word darn as a substitute for the word, damn:

  • A commonly used substitute for ‘Damn,’ in craptacular American animated series.
  • A giant flaming comet speeds towards the archvillian of some cartoon, obviously going to kill or severely injure him.
  • Villian: “Oh Darn It!” [3]
It figures we would have to stoop to the “Crap-tacular American” version of something to find the street roots of a term that is used frequently in adolescent vocabulary.
I cannot recall, come to think of it, the last time that I darned a sock, anyway.
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So it goes.


[1] http://www.dictionary.com/browse/darn

[2] http://www.yourdictionary.com/darn

[3] http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Darn