Word Ten: Micher

 Photo by  Patrick Tomasso  on  Unsplash


This was my word of the week.

it's been over a year since I've written about said word, so strictly speaking, I suppose this should be my word of the year. Unfortunately this is because my words have been hiding from me; so it’s fitting, therefore - and I must add, altogether random; really, really - that the word Google vomited at me should be this.

Micher (n):

  1. One who goes sneaking about for dishonest or improper purposes; one who skulks, or keeps out of sight; a pander or go-between.
  2. A thief; especially a secret or petty thief.
  3. A truant; one who improperly absents himself.

Micher is also an intransitive verb. I add this just in case anyone was thinking about indulging in some michering. Or felt as though they'd been michered, which is beginning to sound vaguely obscene.


The word micher, (or michen, mychen), comes from Middle English, c. 1171-1225, and is thought to be derived from the Norman French muchier, 'to hide'. It is used to effect in Shakespeare:

Shall the blessed sun of heaven prove a micher, and eat blackberries?
Falstaff to Prince Hal, Henry IV, Part II

And far later in Peveril of the Peak, by Sir Walter Scott, author of Rob Roy:

Most exquisite Chiffinch, thou art turned micher as well as padder — canst both rob a man and kidnap him?

Let’s face it; in 2017, you don't run across micher, mychen, michen, müchere, müchare or its muchachos (or for that matter Sir Walter Scott) on an everyday basis. In fact, by about 1953, the word had just about disappeared. This is a bit of a shame, because it's quite a cool word.

I mean, just look at how well it works with muchacho.

Whilst it may have disappeared linguistically, when it comes to chronic illness, micher is still managing to sneak-thief its way around the place.


To refer somewhat tenuously back to Shakespeare for a moment, sometimes, sleep is not a case of perchance to dream, but perchance to... well, what you believe at first, in a doze-addled haze, is a sneeze. What that sneeze actually is, though, is a sneak thief. A skulker. A dishonest and secret pretender. It's yet another symptom of being ill that one forgets is there in the rush of feeling well, and healthy, and normal, for sustained periods of time.

It is a truant, who - I won't use the word improperly, because as far as I was concerned, it was properly - absented itself, and then reappeared, definitely for dishonest purposes. 

To cut a long and fairly revolting story short; the other night I was forcefully reminded, in my sleep, through an insidious micher in the form of blood and vomit coming out my nose, just what it means to have a long-term and presently incurable disease. 

Illness - chronic illness in particular - is dishonest. It lulls one into a false sense of security, keeping out of sight; allowing days, weeks, months, even, of wellness, good health, energy. You know. Life. Then, when everything is tickety-boo, it breaks out the metaphysical lock picks and saunters back into one's body as though it had never left, waving cheerily and dumping six months' worth of dirty laundry, bad eating habits, empty duty-free bottles and the accompanying hangover into the metabolic system. 

It's enough to make a grown woman sneeze vomit. 

I would be perfectly happy for my illness to stick with the third given definition of micher. For it to play truant permanently and absent itself from my life, my system and my psyche. For this sneak thief to stay well and truly snuck.

As it is, I am proud this secret thief is finding it harder to re-breach the walls each time he decides to take a break from storming Castle Kate.

And one day, I know, I know, his skulking will do him no favours. He will find that he can neither rob me, nor kidnap me. 

The mich will be my bitch. 

And that statement is not intended to be even vaguely obscene.