This week’s word comes courtesy of our city leaders here in Asheville. In case you haven’t heard, much of the southern half of the city lost water this week. The restoration process has been painfully slow and communication has been horrendous. The result is we’ve been without water for several days and don’t know when that will change.

Thus, I referred to our feckless leaders. Pick your definition from Merriam-Webster—weak in mind, worthless, awkward, unskilled, purposeless—and it fits. The fun began, though, when asked, “What is the opposite of feckless?” Believe it or not, the much less commonly used feckful meaning effective, sturdy, trustworthy, efficient, or vigorous.

But is there a feck? Yes, meaning value, worth, or even a quantity.

Because they are primarily Scottish, feck and feckful aren’t often used in most English speech, though feckless is more common. The famous Scottish essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle used the word which brought it to the world’s attention.

And the etymology is quite simple. “Feck” is a shortened version of the word effect in Scottish.

Now you know some background on a quite useful term. Pardon me while I go back to hunting bottled water.

P.S. – I had no sooner posted this when a trickle of water came back. Yea!


  1. Juno's mom on January 2, 2023 at 11:38 am

    Word etymology is always interesting. I don’t remember hearing the the word effectful used but effectual, yes. Gotta love the Scots and their vernacular.

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