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Two Kinds of “Fell”

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Caroline calls from Clinch Mountain, Tennessee, to ask about two puzzling uses of the word fell, and not as in the past tense of fall. In books by J.R.R. Tolkien, she’s seen fell used as an adjective meaning “dreadful” or “evil.” It’s the same fell in the phrase one fell swoop, originally the swift and merciless attack of a bird of prey. In the books of James Herriot, the word fell is sometimes used as a noun to denote a hill or other elevated feature of the landscape. This is part of a complete episode.

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