A Dedbote is Actually Something Owed,



by Benjamin Lytal

an “amends bote,” a deed “bote.” A dead bolt is any bolt engaged by turning a knob or a key, instead of by spring action. Dead weight is the heavy unrelieved weight of an inert body. Dead water is water without any current but it is also the stillest state of the tide, and it is also the eddy water just behind the stern of a ship under way. Dead reckoning is, as you know, done without reference to astronomy. Dead pan is an expressionless face. Dead work is work in hand, not finished, or it may also be work not directly productive, but done in preparation for future work. A dead lift is the pull of a horse exerting his utmost strength at a dead weight beyond its power to move; it is a position or juncture in which one can do no more. A dead heat is a race in which two or more competitors reach the goal at the same instant. A dead-light is a strong shutter fixed outside a cabin window in a storm, to prevent water from entering. Dead color is the first or preparatory layer of color in a painting. The prefix “dead-” means utter, entirely, with the full weight of an inert body, quite, absolutely, completely, directly, straight, pressing with its full unrelieved weight, utter, profound and deep, lowest and stillest, unbroken, unmoving.

About the Author:

Benjamin Lytal’s A Map of Tulsa was published in Britain by And Other Stories. He is at work on a new novel. “A Dedbote is Actually Something Owed” owes a debt to the Oxford English Dictionary.