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Words new to me: отпрыск

January 28, 2013

строение-корня-малиныThe word отпрыск means “runner” or “shoot” in a botanical sense – new growth from a stump or root per Kuznetsov – and metaphorically “offspring” or “descendant” or “child.” When Pisemskii introduces Sonia (Sophie) Basardina, later Leneva, and Aleksandr Baklanov, he calls the chapter Молодые отпрыски ‘Young Shoots.’ The metaphor can be kept alive: Krestovskii gives an entire part of The Slums of Petersburg (Петербургские трущобы, 1864-66) the title Молодые отпрыски старых корней ‘Young Shoots from Old Roots.’

cleft graftAnother English equivalent of отпрыск is “scion” (as in отпрыск древнего рода ‘scion of an ancient house’), a word I knew only in the meaning “offspring,” but which turns out to be a different botanical metaphor: the second meaning of scion in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed., 2000) is “A detached shoot or twig containing buds from a woody plant, used in grafting.”

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