The wishing ill

The Rhymes With Orange from the 23rd:

Language play based on wishing well, understood either as a synthetic compound (with well understood as an N: ‘a well for wishing (for something)’, specifically ‘a well into which one drops a coin and makes a wish’ (NOAD2)) or as a nominal based on the V + Adv idiom wish s.o. well ‘feel or express a desire for someone’s well-being’ (Oxford dictionaries site). The cartoon then treats wishing ill as exactly parallel, to the point of positing an N ill, referring to a well-like object into which one drops a coin and makes a wish for misfortune.

This is considerably more complex than the One Big Happy I wrote about in a 11/3/16 posting “wishing well”, where I reported

[the child] Ruthie’s take on the compound wishing well: for most of us, ‘well for wishing, for making a wish’, but Ruthie’s understanding is ‘place for wishing well, for making a wish for something good’. Her own private etymology.

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