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Aug 3, 2015
This week’s theme
Unusual verbs for everyday actions

This week’s words

The Princess and the Pee
“Rats!!...Now I have to go to the bathroom.”
Cartoon: Ivan Kaminoff

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with Anu Garg

Using short Anglo-Saxon words is preferable to long Latinate terms, but there’s a use for everything. While being direct is a good policy in general, there are times when you want to avoid spelling it out bluntly and use a polysyllabic word instead. Think expectorate instead of spit, for example.

This week we’ll feature Latin terms for some everyday actions. We typically use four-letter words for these actions in day-to-day use, but in polite company you may want to use this week’s words instead.


(MIK-chuh-rayt, MIK-tuh-)

verb intr.: To urinate.

From Latin micturire (to want to urinate), from meiere (to urinate). Ultimately from the Indo-European root meigh- (to urinate), which also gave us mist, thrush, and mistletoe. Earliest documented use: 1842.

“Michael Owen, formerly a soccer player, will not spend a penny unnecessarily. ‘Don’t care how much I’m bursting,’ he tweets, ‘I refuse to pay 20p to have a wee at a train station.’
One applauds his thriftiness while simultaneously wondering what he does in the circumstances to relieve himself. One also wonders when he found himself in this frightful situation. When last I needed to micturate on railway premises, the going rate was an inflation-busting, wallet-hammering 30p.”
Alan Taylor; How Would Rabbie Burns Vote in the Referendum?; Sunday Herald (Glasgow, Scotland); Feb 9, 2014.

See more usage examples of micturate in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

The world is changed not by the self-regarding, but by men and women prepared to make fools of themselves. -P.D. James, novelist (3 Aug 1920-2014)

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