I am reading Parachute Infantry, the World War II memoir of David Webster, a member of E Company of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division -- better known as Easy Company of the book and TV show Band of Brothers. In his book, Webster describes an abandoned German machine-gun nest:
- "Filthy as ever, the Germans had left behind them piles of ordure and a rank body odor that seemed appropriate to their long, oily hair and sweaty uniforms of cheap wool."
I guessed what ordure was, and I was right. I'll let the American Heritage Dictionary define it clinically:
- 1. Excrement; dung.
- 2. Something morally offensive; filth.
AHD says ordure is from "Middle English, from Old French, from ord, meaning filthy, from the Latin horridus, meaning frightful, from horrēre, meaning to shudder."
The OED's etymology differs slightly, and is more expansive, saying it is among many spellings in Anglo-Norman: "Anglo-Norman ordure, ordeure, ordore, ordeur, ordour, ordur and Middle French ordure, all meaning filth, dirt, moral defilement, excrement."
(Warning, contains language: Webster was a Harvard man, hence the fancy words for shit. But he doesn't shy away from obscenity of his book, with more fucks than I've see in most WWII memoirs.)