Kohr-i-juh-buhl: Adjective: capable of, or submitting to, correction
Related forms: corrigibility, noun; corrigibly, adverb; corrigibleness, noun
From Latin, corrigere, to make straight, which is equivalent to cor- (as with com- and con-), a prefix meaning with, together or completely, plus regere, to keep straight, guide, lead or rule. Thus giving us something that can be, or is willing to be, corrected. Alas, corrigible, as a word, has sadly slipped from favour and it is now far more likely – especially if you’re anything like us, and particularly if you’ve enjoyed the same kind of kind of doting partner as we have – that you will have encountered the term (well, more accurately, had inflicted upon you) in its negative form: incorrigible. Uncorrectable, obviously. Very much with the sense of being “hopelessly depraved” or an utterly lost cause. Not to be confused with irascible, however, which managed, on one memorable occasion (at least), to find itself sharing the same sentence with incorrigible, along with a veritable plethora of other such adjectival pejoratives (some infinitely less printable and far more wounding), simply because the blackguard they referred to had had the sheer audacity to quibble over the justice of his cheek having just been soundly warmed via the swift administration of her well-aimed palm. Have no sympathy for him whatsoever, ladies or, indeed, gentlemen, for the fellow thoroughly deserved what came so rapidly and unexpectedly in his direction: after all, there he had sat for the better part of an hour with his jacket on, ready to go out, while she was in the bathroom “applying the finishing touches” and yet, when she finally does emerge, resplendent, with her inexorable inquiry as to “how do I look?” despite having been furnished with sixty full minutes to devote entirely to amassing superlatives to fling about, all he can manage is “fine.” Given the brutal and instantaneous aftermath of such a lapse, “stunning” may well have been a good deal more apposite. All of which is an example of incorrigible in its modern sense: beneath contempt. But we digress so, before we do start to wander off in search of a term that means “bitterly anecdotal”, let’s get back to the point, shall we?
Both these words – corrigible and incorrigible – came into being around the early to mid-fourteenth century, as did a whole host of kindred terminology that sprang up from the same regere root and which have a similar kind of resonance. So, before we find out what those other related ones are, it might be as well to have a quick peek back in time to see if we can discover a possible reason why they might have needed so many words for situations requiring a firm guiding hand and a bit of straightening out of wrongsters and ne’er-do-wells.
And, to the Medieval mind, the reason behind all this death and disaster* was perfectly obvious: it was all down to sin and fornication. Which, ironically enough, was what did for Tories too, after they’d dabbled with their own version of the poll tax: sin and fornication. Oh, and something to do with a Chelsea strip, gratuitous adultery, toe-sucking (the mind fairly boggles) and an actress, all of which would, ironically, later be proven to be no more than the vile imagination of another hideous sinner and fornicator now rotting happily in jail. What it all boiled down to was that, if the fourteenth centurions were going to avoid another infestation of Famine, Pestilence, Plague and Conflict, a firm hand would be needed on the tiller. Which meant they’d also be needing some words for what they were up to and to let folk know what was going on. So what were they?
Library folk are currently jumping up and down, wondering if and when we’re finally going to mention one of their very own specimens of shibboleth, by which we mean, of course, corrigendum (noun) an error to be corrected, especially in print; plural corrigenda: a list of corrections of errors in a book or other publication, also called erratum (by hoi polloi), a slip of paper inserted into a book after printing, listing errors and corrections. All of which just about covers it, we think …
[ALL opinions expressed herein are entirely personal]
Lon Chaney in Phantom of the Opera: By Movie still scan () [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Hunters in the Snow: Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1526/1530–1569) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Edward Counting the Dead at Crecy: By Virgil Master (illuminator) (Jean Froissart, Chroniques (Vol. I)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
William Walworth killing Wat Tyler: [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Thatcher in the White House: By White House Photographic Office [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Four Horsemen: Albrecht Dürer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Galen: Pierre-Roch Vigneron [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Execution of Lady Jane Grey: Paul Delaroche [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Poodle: By Belinda Hankins Miller (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Virgil & Dante in Hell: By Eugene Delacroix (26 April 1798 –13 August 1863) Jonathanriley at en.wikipedia Later version(s) were uploaded by Jappalang at en.wikipedia. [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons