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My wife's family uses the word "washel"or "washle". They are from eastern Ohio, in and about Mineral Ridge, Ohio.

They use it in place of crumple, as in "washel a piece of paper". Not sure of spelling, sounds like mash.

Anyone know the origin?

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    Do you have any evidence that anyone apart from your wife's family uses this word? And it might help to know where they came from, obviously. Might it be a corruption of ruffle, wrinkle, rumple, or similar? There's also warsle, which I didn't know before now (Scottish / Northern English dialectal derivative of wrestle, apparently), that might be used in this way. Nov 13, 2018 at 18:08
  • This might be dialectal, so it would be good to know where your wife's family is from. Nov 13, 2018 at 19:38
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    eastern Ohio, in and about Mineral Ridge, Ohio
    – JBW
    Nov 14, 2018 at 19:05
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    JBW: if you haven’t gotten an answer to this in a couple days, ping me (like “pinging @DanBron”), and I’ll pay for a bounty on it (don’t worry, it won’t cost me any actual money, just imaginary internet points, and I have stacks of the stuff lying around doing nothing).
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 15, 2018 at 5:07
  • I checked my dead-tree edition of DARE (the Dictionary of American Regional English) but was unable to find this word using any spelling variant (like "we-" , "wha-", etc.) I could think of.
    – njuffa
    Nov 24, 2018 at 23:01

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I'm not sure on the origin of the word, but I can contribute that it doesn't seem to be dialectal or unique to your family.

Google's Ngram Viewer shows that it's been around at least since 1800, and was actually in greater use then.

The University of Michigan seems to treat it as a noun.

Page 393 of Robert E Lewis' Middle English Dictionary seems to indicate washel is only a noun, equivalent to vessel and originating from weshel.

Under the heading Old Edinburgh, David Maxwell's Bygone Scotland seems to support the use of weshel in this sense - "within covered weshel". Page 83 of Seafield Correspondence 1685-1708 also seems to use the word this way - 'especially the weshell that is not come up as yet' ("espeallie the weshell that is not come vp as yet").

These sources seem to indicate that although washel is not unique to your family, the meaning your family uses it with is unique. As such, the origin could only be guessed at - perhaps a spelling mistake, or someone mishearing someone else. I would ask the family if they knew its origin.

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  • That's not the same word—the OP's word is a verb. It's like the difference between pear and pare, which also aren't the same word. Nov 24, 2018 at 23:03
  • Looking at some instances of "washel" linked from Ngram Viewer, they seem to be OCR artifacts: the actual images invariably show the word to be "washed".
    – njuffa
    Nov 24, 2018 at 23:04
  • That's not the same word is exactly what I'm saying - Google's Ngram Viewer indicates that the word 'washel' has been around for quite some time, but the Ngram doesn't take into account which part of speech it is, so I compared OP's with other people's usage to demonstrate that his family's use is unique in that it is a verb, and has a different meaning to traditional usage (where washel comes from weshel meaning vessel). Because it is a different word, I suggest that OP's is unique to his family. Nov 24, 2018 at 23:05

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