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September 21, 2018

I went for a run in Epping Forest this morning; and although I was in a familiar corner of the forest, near where I live, I managed to wander off the track and found myself lost in a sort of cul-de-sac, my way barred by a wall of holly and brambles. And there came into my head the apposite phrase: ‘I’m bewildered.’

That’s what the word used to mean, you see: lost in the wilderness. This had never occurred to me before. The word is a dead metaphor now, simply meaning confused or at a loss. But once, when people travelled almost everywhere on foot and there was a lot more forest than there is now, being literally bewildered must have been something that happened reasonably often.

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  1. Simon Carter permalink

    That’s a very pleasing explanation. It seems so obvious but certainly hadn’t occurred to me before.

  2. Mark Brafield permalink

    Just a shame that a witch did not appear, cast her spell over you and chatter noisily (being the etymology of ‘bother’, apparently) at the same time ….

    • Thanks. I didn’t know that. So the song ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’ makes better sense than I realised.

  3. Simon Carter permalink

    And presumably the root for bodhran, the Irish drum, which can certainly make a noise.

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