What do you call the icky stuff on your lake bottom?

What do you call the icky stuff on your lake bottom?

Mud, Muck or (maybe) “Myuk”?

At my grandparents cottage, everyone called the soft, icky stuff on the lake bottom, “muck.”  All their neighbors called it “muck.” I was young; weird-sounding words caught my attention. “Muck,” rhymed with “yuck,” so it stuck.

Years later, my parents had a cottage Lacey Lake. Despite its lovely, lilting name, the bottom was horrible. All of those neighbors called it “muck.”

Now we have a cottage on another lake and everyone there calls it “muck.” In fact, everyone I know refers to muck as “muck.”

But you know who doesn’t call muck, “muck?” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary!

Merriam, (or whoever’s in charge now) lists five definitions of muck as a noun — and three definitions as a verb — and not one of them refers to lake, or pond, or river bottoms.

I clicked on Merriam’s thesaurus for synonyms: gook, mud, mire, slime, silt, slop, sludge, slush and — GUMBO?… I love gumbo! Jimmy Buffett wrote a great song about it; “I will play for Gumbo.” … Muck is definitely not gumbo.

This wasn’t right, so I set out to find where the word came from. Pretty sure I found it… and it’s awesome!

If you think about it, “soft cow dung” is a great description of what lake muck is like.

There’s an Old Norse word, “Myki” that originally meant “cow dung.” In time, the word (somehow) evolved to mean “soft.” And if you think about it, “soft cow dung” is a perfect description of what lake muck looks and feels like.


Today, the Swedish word for “soft,” is “myuk.”  🇸🇪

“Myuk” — The Perfect Word for Muck.

Spoken aloud, ”Myuk"* combines “muck” and “yuck” into a single word that evokes both the sensation and our reaction to sinking in muck, (unless you speak Swedish, I guess). Myuk sounds exactly like what the icky, nasty,  annoying goo on your lake bottom looks and feels like, doesn’t it?

Maybe we should call MuckMat Pro the MyukMat Pro?


* Any wordsmiths out there?

“Myuk” isn’t an onomatopoeia; muck doesn’t make a sound one can imitate.

It’s like an ideophone; stars “twinkle” — candles “flicker,” —but— lake muck doesn’t do anything. Still, the sound “myuk,” instantly conjures up the unpleasant feeling in anyone who’s experienced lake muck. 

I really don’t know what it is, but as soon as I read the word, it felt perfect.  If you have thoughts on what this linguistic device is, please enlighten me at: Doug@lakemat.com


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