I know about riddles, and ruddle is red pigment. But what about raddle?
I read the word “raddle” for the first time in the 1951 Newberry Medal book, Amos Fortune, Free Man. As Amos Fortune, an 18th century slave who had purchased his own freedom and that of his wife, traveled by cart to a new home, his wife cradled her treasured plants on her lap;she pictured the “leafless twigs and raddled roots” flourishing at her future front door. Webster’s 1913 dictionary defines “raddled” as being interwoven and twisted together.
I recently came across “raddled” for the second time, in the book My Brother’s Keeper by Marcia Davenport, but the context didn’t fit with the above example. In the latter story, Lilly, had cried so much that “her poor pretty face was raddled and puffed.” In this case, “raddle” is used as a variant of ruddle or reddle, meaning marked with red.
So, reddle, raddle, and ruddle can all mean to mark or paint with red, while raddle can also mean twisted.
Sometimes the English language is a riddle, and figuring it out
raddles rattles my brain. I have to get back to repotting a plant with raddled roots.