English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I came across this line when reading Owen's Strange Meeting:

It seemed that out of the battle I escaped

Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped

Through granites which Titanic wars had groined.

What does the last line really mean? Going by the dictionary, groin as a verb stands for 'to form the line of intersection of two vaults', but with this I am unable to bring Titanic wars into the picture.

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by Matt E. Эллен, Gnawme, JSBձոգչ, FumbleFingers, Will Hunting Mar 21 '12 at 22:05

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

The definition of groin as a verb is available at Dictionary.com – Matt E. Эллен Mar 21 '12 at 16:18
I knew someone would say that. I am unable to correlate the dictionary definition with "Titanic wars". – Bravo Mar 21 '12 at 16:24
If you do a little lookup first, it helps the answerers to know where to direct their advice. – Mitch Mar 21 '12 at 16:25
@Mitch: Okay, I have edited the question slightly, please tell me if the title has to be changed too. – Bravo Mar 21 '12 at 16:30
Not exactly, Jay. This is an anti-war poem, so the assumption that wars stood for some 'processes' is not correct, I think. – Bravo Mar 21 '12 at 17:01
up vote 10 down vote accepted

A groined surface (Wikipedia link) would technically look like this:

enter image description here

Owen used the architectural term poetically to describe the inexorable power and awful grandeur of the war's effects on solid granite.

In one person's analysis:

"Groined" is used here in place of the word grooved; the walls of the tunnel had been grooved by the titanic wars displacing the granite.

share|improve this answer

Theres two meanings:

n1) Old French groign (French groin), Burgundian groigno, Provençal groing, grong, feminine groingna, Italian grugno, Old Portuguese gruin < popular Latin *grunnium, < Latin grunnīre to grunt like a swine

n2) originally grynde , grinde of uncertain origin; connection with grain n.2 is excluded by the early form. The form grine appears in 1530, but did not finally displace grind until the last quarter of the 16th cent., when it underwent corruption into groin , probably through phonetic association with groin n.1

Prof. Skeat suggests that the original sense may have been a channel or depression (compare 2), and that the word may be identical with Old English grynde , recorded only in the sense of ‘abyss’, but etymologically capable of meaning ‘depression’, ‘valley’ ( < prehist. *grundjo- , < *grundu- ground n.; compare German grund , used dialect for ‘valley’; also grindle n.1, grindlet n.).

The grunting one seems more like what would happen in a battle.

Upvote for the other answer though!

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.