flake of mud

Thomas1

Senior Member
polszczyzna warszawska
Hi,

We had a little debate in the Slavic languages forum on the usage of this expression. I’d like to find out what you think of the collocation from the subject of this thread and how often you come it across/use it. :)

Thank you,
Tom
 
  • maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    I have a feeling in the back of my mind that mud is wet, and as such cannot flake. Flakes are dry, being defined in Chambers Dictionary as 'a small flat scale or layer; a very small loose mass.'
    That use of 'loose' would also imply to me that there is a dryness involved.
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    The Collins dictionary
    flake n 1 a small thin piece or layer chipped off or detached from an object or substance; scale.
    From Middle Dutch vlacken to flutter.

    It is my understand that a substance must be dried before it can flake
    A flake of dried mud works but a flake of wet mud is impossible.

    .,,
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    It's technically possible. A boat moored in a muddy creek for enough time gathers mud in a film that builds up. When it dries in the sun you get a craqueler effect causing the mud to flake.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    It's technically possible. A boat moored in a muddy creek for enough time gathers mud in a film that builds up. When it dries in the sun you get a craqueler effect causing the mud to flake.
    That's more or less what I thought of.

    How often do you come it across in such a context??

    Tom
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    That's more or less what I thought of.

    How often do you come it across in such a context??

    Tom
    Well, It's really only an observation, just a quirk of nature, so I can't think of a time when you would need to make reference to it. A Forensic scientist maybe?
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    It's technically possible. A boat moored in a muddy creek for enough time gathers mud in a film that builds up. When it dries in the sun you get a craqueler effect causing the mud to flake.
    What is mud when it is dried?
    What is dirt when it is wet?
    The Collins dictionary.
    mud n 1 a fine-grained soft wet deposit that occurs on the ground after rain, at the bottom of ponds, lakes, etcetera.

    Something that is soft and wet has no chance of flaking.

    .,,
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    {Flake knife} (Arch[ae]ol.), a cutting instrument used by
    savage tribes, made of a flake or chip of hard stone.

    -- From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48


    I just found this. I wonder if hardened mud qualifies in the same principle?
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    It's technically possible. A boat moored in a muddy creek for enough time gathers mud in a film that builds up. When it dries in the sun you get a craqueler effect causing the mud to flake.
    The key here is "when it dries in the sun". At this point, it would no longer be called "mud", in my opinion. It's now caked dirt on the boat's hull.

    Mud, by definition, is wet.
     

    EmilyD

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    We often use the phrase, snow flake(s).

    And they are certainly wet and soft, at least when they land on your face...

    all best regards, Nomi
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    It's technically possible. A boat moored in a muddy creek for enough time gathers mud in a film that builds up. When it dries in the sun you get a craqueler effect causing the mud to flake.
    But by the time it is able to flake it is no longer mud, it is dirt or soil, or — most commonly — 'dried mud'.


    That's more or less what I thought of.
    How often do you come it across in such a context??
    Rarely, if ever, I would suggest.
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Exactly. Dried mud - like dried paint. I agree, it's not a phrase for everyday use, but artists and poets might certainly make such observations.
    :)
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    {Flake knife} (Arch[ae]ol.), a cutting instrument used by
    savage tribes, made of a flake or chip of hard stone.

    -- From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48


    I just found this. I wonder if hardened mud qualifies in the same principle?
    Again you misunderstand.
    In order for a flake to exist it must not needs be composed of dried mud.
    It may be a flake of any dry substances. A stone is a hard substance ergo it is possible to flake a stone but you can not obtain a flake of water.

    .,,
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Exactly. Dried mud - like dried paint. I agree, it's not a phrase for everyday use, but artists and poets might certainly make such observations.
    :)
    You asked about "a flake of mud." It's a nonsense phrase, in my opinion.

    If you add "dried" to the phrase it makes more sense - "a flake of dried mud." Dried mud, though, is not mud. Mud, with no other qualifier, is wet.

    It's similar to "spittle". Spittle is wet. It's conceivable that you could have a flake of dried spittle, but not a flake of spittle. The word, by definition, includes the quality of being wet.
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    You asked about "a flake of mud." It's a nonsense phrase, in my opinion.

    If you add "dried" to the phrase it makes more sense - "a flake of dried mud." Dried mud, though, is not mud. Mud, with no other qualifier, is wet.
    This debate started in another thread. Thomas1 brought it here to get more opinions, and I've given mine, so I'm content.

    Here's the link if you want to read on:

    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=381871
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    This debate started in another thread. Thomas1 brought it here to get more opinions, and I've given mine, so I'm content.
    I am sure you are but you have left me feeling that the topic is now as clear as mud as a result of your muddying of the waters with flakey opinions of a very slippery and murky ilk.

    A flake is dry.
    Mud is wet.
    Ergo a flake of mud may only exist under the artifice of considering mud that has dried to be still mud.

    .,,
    Oddly flake is the American version of an Australian burke.
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I agree, it should be flakes of dried mud if anything. The point is that flaked conjures up:

    flake
    n 1: a crystal of snow [syn: {snowflake}]
    2: a person with an unusual or odd personality [syn: {eccentric},
    {eccentric person}, {oddball}, {geek}]

    3: come off in flakes or thin small pieces; "The paint in my
    house is peeling off" [syn: {peel off}, {peel}, {flake off}]


    -- From WordNet (r) 2.0


    So flake, or flaked, with mud - which is naturally wet,
    and imagining that it has dried (as flaked paint is), I feel there's no reason to elaborate by calling it 'dried'. Flaked paint is acceptable is it not? Yet it's surely wet when you open the tin. You don't refer to it as dried paint when it's on the walls, hence you wouldn't call it dried, flaked paint. To me, mud is mud whether it's in it's natural wet state or dried. Perhaps if we painted our walls with mud, we wouldn't be so quick to call it dried, flaked mud.


     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    So flake, or flaked, with mud - which is naturally wet, and imagining that it has dried (as flaked paint is), I feel there's no reason to elaborate by calling it 'dried'. Flaked paint is acceptable is it not? Yet it's surely wet when you open the tin. You don't refer to it as dried paint when it's on the walls, hence you wouldn't call it dried, flaked paint. To me, mud is mud whether it's in it's natural wet state or dried. Perhaps if we painted our walls with mud, we wouldn't be so quick to call it dried, flaked mud.
    Well, if your goal is to define words on a personal basis, you're certainly welcome to assign any definition you choose to them. Just don't be surprised when those who are not aware of this personal definition are confused by your statements. :)

    As for paint, as far as I know it is assumed to be in its dry state unless otherwise modified, hence the warning signs saying, "Wet Paint". ;)
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I do not think "paint" and "mud" are analogous. "Mud" is assumed to be wet.

    If you say to me, "The garden path was covered with mud" there is no further information I need to glean to find out that it was wet mud you were describing. I would not follow up with, "was it dry or wet?" I would assume the word is describing a wet, gooey substance, not a dried, flaking substance. I don't think that would be an unusual assumption at all.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Mud is always wet. That's why the phrase in the title of the thread is nonsensical. I thought so when I saw it in the Slavic Languages forum (I was even going to say something!), and I still think so.

    In fact, wetness is such an intrinsic quality of mud that the wetter dirt is, the muddier it is.

    In Arabic we have an expression that means the same thing as "add fuel to the fire." The literal translation is "add wetness to the mud." ;)

    Paint is not wet by definition. It is a certain substance that can be wet or dry. Just like glue or nail polish.
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I do not think "paint" and "mud" are analogous. "Mud" is assumed to be wet.

    If you say to me, "The garden path was covered with mud" there is no further information I need to glean to find out that it was wet mud you were describing. I would not follow up with, "was it dry or wet?" I would assume the word is describing a wet, gooey substance, not a dried, flaking substance. I don't think that would be an unusual assumption at all.

    If you say, "The garden path was covered with mud" there's nothing to suggest when it got there, and whether or not it has turned to dried mud.

    I can say, "The path outside my door has a glazed, tile surface leading to the garden, and it is currently covered in mud. It got deposited there when it was wet, then during the day it dries out. It's still there. And when it rains it becomes wet mud again. The next day it's dried mud. Why on earth would you suggest that there is no question as to the physical state of the mud?
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    Somehow I'm not getting any sense of wetness when John Locke writes:

    Earthly minds, like mud walls, resist the strongest batteries.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Clearly the response to this phrase depends a great deal on one's experience with mud. There are flakes of mud on the floor in my garage where I stomped the mud off my boots at the weekend. Would I have called them flakes of mud? I don't know now. They are certainly mud, from my muddy boots. They are certainly thin and very flake-like.

    What is mud?
    1. a. Soft, moist, glutinous material resulting from the mixing of water with soil, sand, dust, or other earthy matter; mire, sludge. Also: hard material or ground produced by the drying of this; (colloq.) soil.
     

    Hakro

    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    Clearly the response to this phrase depends a great deal on one's experience with mud. There are flakes of mud on the floor in my garage where I stomped the mud off my boots at the weekend. Would I have called them flakes of mud? I don't know now. They are certainly mud, from my muddy boots. They are certainly thin and very flake-like.

    What is mud?
    How come, there has been similar residuals on the floor of my garage. They are mud. When I broom the floor they act like flakes. If I had to call them I'd say: "C'mon mud flakes, get out!"
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    If you say, "The garden path was covered with mud" there's nothing to suggest when it got there, and whether or not it has turned to dried mud.

    I can say, "The path outside my door has a glazed, tile surface leading to the garden, and it is currently covered in mud. It got deposited there when it was wet, then during the day it dries out. It's still there. And when it rains it becomes wet mud again. The next day it's dried mud. Why on earth would you suggest that there is no question as to the physical state of the mud?
    Because, in my experience, the word "dried" is always placed in front of the word "mud" to indicate that it is no longer wet.

    As I've said before, I have no problem with the phrase "dried mud". My contention is only that "mud', by itself, indicates something wet.

    As for "mud walls" and "mud hut", this is mud used as an adjective to describe what the building material was. "Walls of mud", for example, would not mean "mud walls" to me. "Walls of mud" would be a wet, thick ooze such as a volcano or flood can create.

    I think we will just have to agree to disagree on this one.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    As for "mud walls" and "mud hut", this is mud used as an adjective to describe what the building material was. "Walls of mud", for example, would not mean "mud walls" to me. "Walls of mud" would be a wet, thick ooze such as a volcano or flood can create.
    My thoughts exactly.
     

    sloopjc

    Senior Member
    UK English
    "Walls of mud", for example, would not mean "mud walls" to me. "Walls of mud" would be a wet, thick ooze such as a volcano or flood can create.
    This is a hair-splitting and playing with words, because the descriptive phrase for a wet, thick ooze such that a volcano or flood creates is a wall of mud. Walls of mud might just as well be walls made from mud.

    You have to give some name to a dried, 'made-of-mud' wall, and I'm sure that 99% of the time people would be happy to call it a mud wall. You are so technically right, JamesM, but neither is it wrong, in my opinion to call something by the name it would most likely be referred to as, even if it was technically incorrect. It wouldn't do justice to our ever-expanding vocabulary.
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    The notion that drying turns mud ipso facto to dirt just seems absurd.

    Children who play in the mud come home muddied, not dirty, whether the mud is wet or dry. Anyone with eyes can tell the difference between a muddy face and a dirty face, and it has nothing to do with moisture content.

    Same for dirty boots/muddy boots.

    And I'm not sure I understand the pass being given 'mud walls' because the word is adjectival. If the adjective describes a wet substance shouldn't the thing described be wet. Wouldn't a 'water wall' be expected to be wet? Not made of ice? And aren't ice caps only ice caps so long as they're frozen?

    Mud walls are mud wall because they are made of mud, not because they were made of mud.

    In #29, Panj gives a definition of mud, both wet and dry, which seems to me entirely adequate.

    I would also like to call attention back to an early post --- xrayspex's?--- suggesting 'fleck of mud' instead of 'flake.' This would apply to mud wet or dry, and is a lovely word.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    The notion that drying turns mud ipso facto to dirt just seems absurd.
    I agree that dried mud and dirt are two different things. Mud stays stuck together when it dries.

    Children who play in the mud come home muddied, not dirty, whether the mud is wet or dry. Anyone with eyes can tell the difference between a muddy face and a dirty face, and it has nothing to do with moisture content.
    Well... I'm not sure that's true. Add a small amount of water to a dirty face and it becomes a muddy face very quickly. :) I do agree that mud can dry on a face and be dried mud, not dirt.

    Same for dirty boots/muddy boots.
    It may be a personal experience thing, as Panj suggested earlier. If you said your boots were muddy, I would expect to see a wet substance on them. If if it was dry, I'd say your boots were caked/covered with dried mud. I do agree that it wouldn't be dirt, though, if it had dried all clumped together.

    And I'm not sure I understand the pass being given 'mud walls' because the word is adjectival. Mud walls are mud wall because they are made of mud, not because they were made of mud.
    To me, mud walls are different from mud brick walls because the mud was wet when the wall was made. It is the state of the mud when the wall was built that determines which word is used, in my mind.

    I would also like to call attention back to an early post --- xrayspex's?--- suggesting 'fleck of mud' instead of 'flake.' This would apply to mud wet or dry, and is a lovely word.
    I agree. Fleck of mud makes more sense to me than "flake of mud." I also agree that a fleck of mud could be wet or dry, but I would assume it was wet unless the word "dry" or "dried" was used. If someone said, "My car is covered with flecks of mud after driving through the field" I would expect it to be wet. I guess one way to look at it is that we don't qualify the word "mud" with wet in most cases, do we? We don't say, "My car is covered with flecks of wet mud after driving through the field." "Wet mud" would sound redundant. To me, this is an indication that the assumed state of mud is wet.

    I have been thinking about this and talking with several people over the last several hours. The initial reaction of all of them to the question: "Can you have a flake of mud?" is a very puzzled look, some thinking, and then an answer that it is possible, but very strange-sounding. Three of them said, "well.. a flake of dried mud..." as their initial answer, with no prompting by me or discussion of mud vs. dried mud. Maybe it's regional. Who knows?

    I retract my "nonsensical" statement. :) I would say now that, at first blush, it sounds nonsensical, at least to me, and to a few people I've asked around me.

    It's clear that the phrase "flake of mud" works for some people here. I'm just not one of them.
     
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