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MEANING: noun: One having the characteristics of both an extrovert and an introvert.
NOTES: An ambivert is one who can be an extrovert or an introvert depending on the situation. For example, with family or close friends one can be open and outgoing while being reserved in the presence of strangers. Also, an ambivert can refer to someone who falls somewhere between the two extremes and shows some tendencies of each.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin ambi- (both) + -vert (as in introvert/extrovert), from vertere (to turn). Ultimately from the Indo-European root wer- (to turn or bend), which also gave us wring, weird, writhe, worth, revert, universe, animadvert, divers, quaquaversal, obverse, obvert, and verso. Earliest documented use: 1923.
- when a one-celled organism turns itself inside outAMBILERT
- broadcast widely over the Internet alerting the public to a missing childAMBIVORT
- a whirlpool that can't make up its mind whether it's spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise
MEANING: adjective: Unfortunate.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old Norse happ (good luck) + less, from Old English laes (without). Earliest documented use: 1400.
HA-LESS - a bad comedian. See also subgroups HAH-LESS - a bad Boston comedian; HAR-LESS - a bad Ozark comedian; HAW-LESS - a bad Texas comedian
HARPLESS - why the choir of angels doesn't sound as full any more
HASPLESS - my diary can''t be locked
CHAPLESS - for women only
MEANING: adjective: Proud; insolent.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin superbiosus (proud or insolent), from superbia (pride), from superbus (superb, proud). Earliest documented use: 1509.
SUPER-BIOS - the life stories of Kal-El, Mary Batson, Bruce Banner, Hal Jordan, Peter Parker, Diana Prince, and many others
SUP HERBIOUS - season your dinner with sage, rosemary, thyme, et.al.
SOUP ERBIOUS - potage made with rare earth
SUPERB IOUs - the highest quality promissory notes
1. Gray or white, as from age.
ETYMOLOGY: From hoar (frost), from Old English har. Earliest documented use: 1530.
OARY - multi-sculled
HONARY - the athlete being appludded
HOVARY - a Cockney hegg-prodcucing organ
MEANING: adjective: Exhibiting advanced development at an early age.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin praecox (premature, early ripening), from praecoquere (to ripen early), from prae- (pre) + coquere (to cook or ripen). Ultimately from the Indo-European root pekw- (to cook or ripen), which is also the source of cook, cuisine, kitchen, kiln, biscuit, apricot (an early-ripening peach, literally speaking), pumpkin, and Hindi pakka (ripened, cooked). Earliest documented use: 1650.
PROCOCIOUS - preferring meat cooked rare (not done, even yet!)
PYRECOCIOUS - preferring meat well-done
PRECONIOUS - ice cream before it leaves the scoop
MEANING: noun: A contract or agreement, especially about a betrothal or marriage.
verb tr.: To engage to be married or to bind in wedlock.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old English handfæsten (to pledge or betroth), from hand + fæstan (to fasten). Earliest documented use: 1275.
USAGE: “The couple’s decision to be handfasted under the full moon is particularly blessed and by our lights very romantic.”
Dear Abby: I Agree with You; The Washington Post; Oct 13, 2002.
BANDFAST - the music was presto
HANDCAST - thrown on a wheel by a live potter
BINDFAST - to tie down
HARDFAST - inflexible, like some rules
MEANING: adjective: Distasteful; offensive; objectionable.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old French répugnant (disgusting), from Latin repugnant (contrary, opposed), from repugnare, from re- (again) + pugnare (to fight), from pugnus (fist). Ultimately from the Indo-European root peuk- (to prick), which is also the source of point, puncture, pungent, punctual, poignant, pounce, poniard, impugn, pugilist, and pugnacious. Earliest documented use: 1425.
R.I.PUGNANT - epitaph for Benny Paret
REDUGNANT - disinterred
REPUGNAT - pesky little critters, aren't they
1. Indirect or ambiguous, having double meaning; sarcastic or malicious.
2. Performed with the back of the hand facing forward.
ETYMOLOGY: The metaphorical sense of the term derives from the image of a hand facing backward being indirect or hiding something. Earliest documented use: 1800. The word forehanded is not an opposite of this word.
JACKHANDED - halfway to being able to open the pot
BOCKHANDED - holding a large stein of beer
BACHANDED - Tempus Fugit - write faster!
1. Ruthless; tyrannical.
2. Stingy; tight-fisted.
For sense 1, from the allusion to someone wielding a crushing fist.
For sense 2, from the allusion to a hard-to-open fist clutching money.
Earliest documented use: 1852.
I WON!-FISTED - aggressive celebration of victory, pumping a clenched hand skyward
IRON-FOISTED - the victim thought it was gold
IRON-FITTED - just got made-to-measure golf clubs for the short game
PRONUNCIATION: (DED hand)
1. The stifling influence of something, especially of the past on the present.
2. The perpetual ownership of property by institutions, such as churches.
ETYMOLOGY: A literal translation of the term mortmain. Earliest documented use: 1615.
DREAD HAND - 2-3-4-5-7. You lose. Period.
DEAR HAND - Four Aces. That's much better. Until it loses to a straight-flush; then it was very dear, indeed...
DEAD BAND - for which we are forever Grateful
MEANING: verb tr.:
1. To raise the price after accepting an offer from a buyer.
2. To offer a higher price to a seller on something that’s already being sold to another.
3. To preempt something, especially by questionable means.
4. To swindle.
ETYMOLOGY: Of uncertain origin, perhaps from Yiddish gezumph (to overcharge). Earliest documented use: 1928.
NOTES: Gazumping often happens in house sales. You have found your dream house, everything looks great, price negotiations are finished, inspection is done, you are ready to sign the contract, and then the seller receives a higher bid and gazumps: raises the price on you. It’s mostly seen in the UK. The term is often used in an extended sense: to trump something by the use of dubious methods. There’s a counterpart to today’s word. Meet it on Friday
GAZUP - what it does before it comes down, as it must
HAZUMP - decides whether things are dangerous or not
GAGUMP - baseball referee's been ordered not to say anything to anybody...
PRONUNCIATION: (al DES-ko)
MEANING: adverb: At one’s desk.
ETYMOLOGY: Patterned after alfresco, from desk, from Latin desca (desk), from discus (disk), from Greek diskos (disk). Earliest documented use: 1981.
AIL DESKO - repetitive strain injury caused by sitting still at work all day
AL DISKO - ¿Where are we dancing tonight, Mamacita?
ALDO'S KO - the former Prime Minister of Italy was famous for using this tactic when he played Go
MEANING: noun: One who is always grinning.
ETYMOLOGY: From grin, from Old English grennian (to show the teeth in pain or anger) + apparently -agogue (bringer). Earliest documented use: 1565.
GRINGO G. - a recently-arrived visitor to Latin America, whose identity shall remain disguised
GRIN, MAGOG - the Apocalypse is at hand!
AGRI-NAGOG - a farm near the pond in Acton/Littleton, Massachusetts
MEANING: noun: Boldness or courage induced by the consumption of alcohol.
NOTES: Also known as liquid courage or Dutch courage.
ETYMOLOGY: From pot, alluding to a drinking pot + valor (boldness), from Latin valor (worth), from valere (to be well, be of worth). Ultimately from the Indo-European root wal- (to be strong), which also gave us valiant, avail, valor, value, wieldy, countervail, valence, valetudinarian, and valorize. Earliest documented use: 1623.
POT-VATOR - device for taking the weed up or down a floor, but in any case out of view
POT-VAPOR - all that remains of the marijuana after using the above device
POST-VALOR - ...nor Covid-19 shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds
MEANING: verb tr.: To reduce the amount of an offer after it has been accepted by the seller.
ETYMOLOGY: A blend of gazump + under. Earliest documented use: 1988.
NOTES: To gazump is to raise the price after accepting an offer from a buyer, but buyers are not always angels. Sometimes a buyer reduces the offer, just before signing the contract. These typically happen in the housing market. A real-estate company even offers a helpful article on How To Gazunder Successfully. While legal, the practice is clearly unethical. It’s fitting then, that the word gazunder has another slang meaning, though it’s unrelated to today’s word. It also refers to a chamber pot, from the condensed spelling of “goes under” referring to where a chamber pot is placed.
GAZE-UNDER - to search for a chamber-pot
GA-ZOUNDER - one who is given to SUDDEN LOUD EXCLAMATIONS !
G'LAUNDER - to run through the g'washing machine
GAWUNDER - drown
MEANING: verb tr.: To cut across.
noun: 1. A narrow section through a natural feature.
2. A path along which measurements or observations are made.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin trans- (across) + secare (to cut). Earliest documented use: for verb 1634, for noun 1905.
TRANSECTS - arthropods who change their gender
TRAINSECT - we worship railroad locomotive and cars and tracks
TRANSPECT - to look across
MEANING: noun: 1. Excess.
2. Overindulgence in eating or drinking.
3. Satiety or disgust caused by overindulgence.
verb tr.: To do or supply anything to excess.
verb intr.: 1. To overindulge.
2. To suffer from overindulgence.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old French surfait (excess), from past participle of surfaire (to overdo), from sur- (over, above) + faire (to do), from Latin facere (to do). Earliest documented use: for noun 1387, for verb 1400.
SMURFEIT - the little blue girl
SQUR-FEIT - how my apartment is measured
SUR-FIT - same size for everybody! (see also SURE-FEIT)
RECONNOITER or RECONNOITRE
PRONUNCIATION: (ree-kuh-NOI-tuhr, rek-uh-)
MEANING: verb tr., intr.: To explore or scout an area for gathering information.
noun: An act of reconnoitering.
ETYMOLOGY: From obsolete French reconnoître, from Latin recognoscere, from re- (again) + gnoscere (to know). Ultimately from the Indo-European root gno- (to know), which is also the source of know, recognize, acquaint, ignore, diagnosis, notice, normal, agnostic, incognito, connoisseur, cognize, anagnorisis (the moment of recognition or discovery), and prosopagnosia (inability to recognize faces). Earliest documented use: for verb 1705, for noun 1781.
DECONNOITER - suppress information about an area
RE: CONN OBITER - about the writer of death notices in Hartford and vicinity
RECON OUTRÉ - investigate the bizarre
MEANING: verb tr.: To transport or transmit.
noun: Transport, transmission, or passage.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin traicere (to throw across), from trans- (across) + jacere (to throw). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ye- (to throw), which also gave us jet, eject, project, reject, object, subject, adjective, joist, jactitation, subjacent, and jaculate. Earliest documented use: for noun: 1552, for verb 1624.
TRA-JEST - the chorus of a jocular song
PRAJECT - the speaker could be heard, but his enunciation wasn't very good
TERAJECT - to throw in billions
MEANING: verb tr., intr.: 1. To place in between.
2. To intrude or to interrupt.
noun: 1. The act of, or an instance of, putting something in between.
2. An interference or interruption.
ETYMOLOGY: From French interposer, from Latin interponere, from inter (between) + ponere (to put). Ultimately from the Indo-European root apo- (off or away), which is also the source of pose, apposite, after, off, awkward, post, puny, apposite, and apropos. Earliest documented use: for verb: 1599, for noun: 1610.
INTEL POSE - capsule summary of that new thriller The Pretend Spy
INTER POISE - just the right amount of savoir-faire
ENTER POSE - to begin the impersonation
MEANING: adjective: Having many different colors.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek hetero- (different) + chrom- (color). Earliest documented use: 1895.
HETAEROCHROMATIC - the color of an elegant Greek courtesan
HEPTEROCHROMATIC - seven-colored, like a rainbow
HE TERACHROMATIC - he's a chameleon, with a trillion colors
MEANING: noun: A word or phrase that, when spoken, appears to be the same as a different word or phrase on a person’s lips, for example my and pie.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek homo- (same) + phainein (to show). Ultimately from the Indo-European root bha- (to shine), which is also the source of beacon, banner, phantom, photo, phosphorus, phenomenon, fantasy, epiphany, sycophant, and apophenia. Earliest documented use: 1883.
NOTES: Here are some more examples of words/phrases that appear the same to someone lip reading:
mark, park, and bark
“elephant juice” and “I love you”
bargain and market
HEMOPHENE - benzene-based compounds, found in trace amounts in the blood
HO! MORPHENE! - look at that stash I just found!
HOLOPHENE - one who has terrible things happen to him in a drunken stupor (according to the Book of Judith)
MEANING: noun: 1. A person who is unconventional; a maverick.
2. A word that is irregularly formed.
adjective: 1. Deviating from the ordinary rule; eccentric.
2. (In grammar) Irregularly inflected.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin heteroclitus, from Greek heteroklitos, from hetero- (different) + klinein (to lean, inflect). Ultimately from the Indo-European root klei- (to lean), which also gave us decline, incline, recline, lean, client, climax, and ladder. Earliest documented use: 1580.
HETEROCLIME - Like New England weather - if you don't like it, just wait 15 minutes
HETHEROCLITE - a kind of iron ore found in Scotland mixed in among wildflowers
HETEROCULITE - having a different prescription to correct the vision in each eye
PRONUNCIATION: (huh-MOL-uh-gayt, ho-)
MEANING: verb tr.: To approve officially, especially a car, engine, etc., for sale in a particular market or for its use in racing.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin homologare (to agree), from Greek homologein (to agree or allow). Earliest documented use: 1644.
NOTES: Some auto racing competitions require participating vehicles to be available for sale to the general public, and not be custom made for racing. In other words, the vehicle must be a production model, not a prototype. The process of homologation verifies this. The initials GTO listed after some auto names (Ferrari, Pontiac, etc.) stand for “Gran Turismo Omologato”, Italian for “Grand Touring, Homologated”.
NOMOLOGATE - to make suitable for baseballer Garciaparra
HOMOLOCATE - to find a missing person by using the GPS chip in his smartphone
HOMOLEGATE - lawyer for all mankind
1. A spelling different from the one in current use.
2. Use of the same letter(s) to convey different sounds, for example, gh in rough and ghost.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek hetero- (different) + -graphy (writing). Earliest documented use: 1783.
NOTES: The idea of heterography is a recent phenomenon, relatively speaking. Earlier, when English was mainly a spoken language, it was a free-for-all, spelling-wise. Any spelling was fine as long as you could make yourself understood. Each writer spelled words in their own way, trying to spell them phonetically. Shakespeare spelled his own name in various ways (Shaxspear, Shakespear, and so on) ...
With the advent of printing in the 15th century, spelling began to become standardized. By the 19th century, most words had a single “official” spelling, as a consensus, not by the diktat of a committee.
Today if you write “definately” and someone points out that you’ve misspelled the word, just tell them you’re a practitioner of heterography.
HESTEROGRAPHY - a handwritten manuscript of The Scarlet Letter
....."handwritten manuscript" - now there's a redundant phrase for you!
HEXEROGRAPHY - 1. pictures of witches; 2. man's dry reproduction process
HERTEROGRAPHY - the collected writings of Eisenhower's Secretary of State
MEANING: noun: The blurred effect in a photograph, typically as a soft out-of-focus background, that results in a pleasing effect and helps to draw attention to the subject of the photograph.
ETYMOLOGY: From Japanese boke (blur, haze) or boke-aji (blur quality). Earliest documented use: 1997.
BOKEN - with "HO!," a greeting uttered upon arrival at a city in New Jersey
BOKETH - past tense of the old third-person-singular form of the verb meaning "to ride on a two-wheeled vehicle"
BOKEN - how a two-year-old just learning to speak describes something that doesn't work right any more
PRONUNCIATION: (SEN-say, sen-SAY)
MEANING: noun: A teacher, mentor, or a master in a field.
ETYMOLOGY: From Japanese sensei (teacher, master), from sen (earlier) + sei (birth), meaning a teacher was born earlier and knows more and has more experience. Earliest documented use: 1874.
SEN-SEN - the Curiously Strong Mint of the 1950s (give or take 15 years)
SENSEKI - a dramatic move in Go that had better not be made
SENASE I - the first enzyme that catalyzes activity in the Upper House of Congress
MEANING: interjection: Goodbye.
ETYMOLOGY: From Japanese sayonara (goodbye), short for sayo naraba (if it is to be that way), from sayo (thus) + naraba (if it be), ultimately from Chinese. Earliest documented use: 1863.
MAYONARA - adj, describing an Italian dish prepared with mayonnaise and a brine marinade
SAYONARMA - Okay, I'm Norma, now what?
SAY ON A RAG - critic's review of the first performance of The Entertainer
RAYON ARA - a synthetic cloth constellation
1. The art of folding paper into various shapes.
2. An object made by folding paper.
ETYMOLOGY: From Japanese origami, from ori (fold) + kami (paper). Earliest documented use: 1948.
OBIGAMI - an Irishman with two wives
ORINAMI - the mouth of a tidal wave
PRIG, AM I? - You accuse me of being prudish?
PRONUNCIATION: (se-POO-koo, SE-puh-koo)
1. Ritual suicide by disembowelment.
2. Ruining one’s own interests.
ETYMOLOGY: From Japanese setsu fuku, from setsu (to cut) + fuku (abdomen), ultimately from Chinese. Earliest documented use: 1871.
NOTES: ...also known as harakiri
SEE-PUKU - what the Tokyo hockey goalie has to do well...
SEP-PUPU - platter of small amounts of several different foods, to order at an Asian restaurant
SEMP-UKU - gallant action by the Imperial Marines
1. A vagrant or a loafer.
2. A soapbox orator or agitator.
ETYMOLOGY: After the Yarra river in Victoria, Australia. Its bank was once a popular hangout for vagrants, soapbox orators, and the like. Earliest documented use: late 19th century.
YARRA-BANNER - see many of them, along the riverside tourist esplanade in Victoria, Australia
FARRA-BANKER - the Six Million Dollar Woman's second career was in finance
Y'AGRA-BANKER - its headquarters is right next to the Taj Mahal (and it specializes in farm loans)
MEANING: noun: A rich source of something valuable.
ETYMOLOGY: After the Klondike region in the Yukon Territory, Canada, named after the Klondike River. It was the site of a gold rush from 1896 to 1899. Earliest documented use: 1897.
BLONDIKE - when Eisenhower lightened his hair dramatically
KOLONDIKE - the physical cause of constipation
KLM ON DIKE - Royal Dutch Airways aircraft made an emergency landing on a sea-wall
MEANING: noun: A point of no return, one where an action taken commits a person irrevocably.
ETYMOLOGY: Contrary to popular belief, Caesar salad is not named after Julius Caesar. But today’s term does have a connection to him. In 49 BCE, Caesar crossed the Rubicon, a small river that formed the boundary between Cisalpine Gaul and Italy. As he crossed the river into Italy, he exclaimed “Iacta alea est” (The die is cast), knowing well that his action signified a declaration of war with Rome. Today when an action marks a situation where there is no going back, we say the Rubicon has been crossed. Earliest documented use: 1613.
RUBIC WON - Who got the prize for the best toy of the early 1980s?
REBICON - annual gathering of Civil War renacters, partial to the South
RUBI-CORN - maize of a particularly intense deep red
MEANING: verb intr.: 1. To follow a winding course.
2. To move aimlessly.
3. To speak or write without a focus.
noun: 1. A curve or bend in a path, stream, etc.
2. A winding path.
3. A circuitous journey; a ramble.
ETYMOLOGY: After Maeander (modern name: Büyük Menderes), a river in Turkey, known for its winding course. Earliest documented use: 1576.
MEAN TER - Cockney behaving with ill will
MEANTER - teacher, role model, and guide
MEADER - Vaughan the Comedian (and JFK satirist)
MD ANDER - father of a well-known cancer hospital and research center in Texas
PRONUNCIATION: (ny-AG-ruh, ny-AG-uhr-uh)
MEANING: noun: An outpouring; a deluge.
ETYMOLOGY: After the Niagara river which forms the Niagara Falls, a group of three massive waterfalls, between the US and Canada. Earliest documented use: 1800.
"NI!" AGORA - Greek marketplace full of Knights from Monty Python
NiAg BRA - lingerie worn by Metallica on tour
NAG ARA - pester the Notre Dame football coach
MEANING: noun: Any of various musical instruments in which sound is produced by striking pieces of stone.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek litho- (stone) + -phone (sound). Earliest documented use: 1889.
LITHOPRONE - given to forming kidney and gall-bladder stones
LITHOPHONY - rocks made of papier-maché but painted
LITHOPHANE - a thin layer of wrapping material that you can't unfold or tear open or even see through, for wrapping packs of guaranteed-safe cigarettes
LITHOSHONE - very highly polished marble
MEANING: noun: Excessive devotion to filth or obscenity.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek aischro- (shameful or ugly) + -latreia (worship). Earliest documented use: 1912.
AISCHROLATRIA - having ugly upper-chambers of the heart
AISCROLATREIA - worshipping the parchment and ink of the ancient Holy Writ rather than the meaning of its contents
AISCHROLATRESIA - the island fishery did not develop properly
MEANING: noun: Belief in or worship of one god without denying the possibility of others.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek heno- (one) + -theism (belief in god). Earliest documented use: 1860.
HEROTHEISM - worship of a protagonist
XENOTHEISM - worship of an alien god
ME-NOT-HE-ISM - I'm all right, Jack
SHE-NOT-HE-ISM - I always knew God didn't have a long white beard
MEANING: noun: A more specific term in a general class. For example, “purple” is a hyponym of “color”.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek hypo- (under) + -nym (name). Earliest documented use: 1963.
TYPONYM - TU1/2ONYM
HYPO-GYM - the locker rooms are downstairs, right below us
BY PONY, M - reply to "How do you plan to escape from those desperadoes afterward, Bond?"
1. The study of aging and related decline.
2. The study of a species approaching extinction.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek gerat- (old age) + -logy (study). Earliest documented use: 1884.
GER-OTOLOGY - the study of ear disorders in the elderly
GERMATOLOGY - the study of skin infections
VERATOLOGY - the study of Truthiness
GEARATOLOGY - the study of mechanical interactions
GYRATOLOGY - the study of spinning
PRONUNCIATION: (GOL-den KAHF)
MEANING: noun: Someone or something unworthy that is excessively esteemed.
ETYMOLOGY: In the biblical story Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying stone tablets with the Ten Commandments only to find Israelites worshiping a calf made of gold. Earliest documented use: 1575.
GOODEN CALF - what the NY Mets pitching star got his power from
GOLDEN CALIF - 1. tale of the 615th Arabian NIght ((Westerners may recognize the story of King Midas) 2. the Gate where the Bridge is
GOLDEN RALF - King Midas just barfed
PRONUNCIATION: (SIL-vuhr spoon)
MEANING: noun: Inherited wealth.
ETYMOLOGY: The phrase is often used in the construction “to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth” meaning one’s born in privilege and wealth. The association of silver with riches is obvious, so why not a gold spoon? Nobody knows, though it may have something to do with silver’s biocidal properties. Earliest documented use: 1719.
SILVER SPOOL - where to get the thread to weave among the gold
SALVER SPOON - what haute societé takes sugar and cream from
SOLVER SPOON - cruciverbalist's trophy
MEANING: noun: Someone who pretends to have money, skill, influence, etc.
adjective: Inferior or insignificant, while pretending to be otherwise.
ETYMOLOGY: The word has its origin in gambling, from the use of a cone-shaped container used to shake the dice. A tinhorn gambler was someone who pretended to be a big player, but actually played for small stakes. Earliest documented use: 1885.
EINHORN - German word for "unicorn"
TINSHORN - deprived of all can-making material
TENHORN - a LARGE orchestral brass section
VINHORN - a cornucopia full of French wine
PRONUNCIATION: (bras taks)
MEANING: noun: Practical details; essentials; realities.
ETYMOLOGY: The term is typically used in the phrase “to get down to brass tacks”. There are many conjectures about the origins of the term, but it’s not confirmed why we say brass tacks, instead of, say iron tacks, or for that matter iron nails. Earliest documented use: 1863.
BRA STACKS - the stock room in Victoria's Secret
BASS TACKS - how the fish swims upstream
BRASS TANKS - used in stills in place of copper to make a higher-class moonshine
1. Covered with iron.
2. Inflexible, unbreakable, or indisputable.
ETYMOLOGY: From iron, from Old English iren + clad (clothed), from Old English clathod. Earliest documented use: 1752.
IRON CLAY - not very good soil, but great ore
IRONIC LAD - Marvel's latest Superhero; always has something wry to say
IRON CHAD - how to make a ballot look unused
MEANING: adjective: Bearing the author’s name; named.
ETYMOLOGY: Back-formation from Latin anonymus, from Greek anonymus, from an- (not) + onyma (name). Earliest documented use: 1775. Anonymous is from 1601.
ONYXOUS - like a black semi-precious jewel
ONYMPUS - one letter away from the home of the Greek Gods
NYMOUS - uninvited denizen of many Manhattan apartments
MEANING: verb intr.: To swagger, bluster, behave recklessly, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: Back-formation from swashbuckler (one who makes a noise by striking a sword on a shield), from swash (of imitative origin) + buckler (a small round shield), from boucle (a boss on a shield), from Latin buccula, diminutive of bucca (cheek). Earliest documented use: 1897. Swashbuckler is from 1560.
SWISHBUCKLE - a special buckle designed to make intimidating sounds when the belt is whirled around the head, to be used as a weapon
SW ASHBUCKLE - the southwest quadrant of Ashbuckle, West Virginia, where wooden belt accessories are manufactured
SWASH BOUCKLÉ - woven wrist-watch bands
MEANING: noun: A sharp turn or angle in a zigzag course.
verb intr.: To make a sharp turn.
ETYMOLOGY: Back-formation from zigzag, from French zigzag, from ziczac, from German Zickzack (zigzag), perhaps a reduplication of Zacke (peak, tooth, or nail). Earliest documented use: 1969. Zigzag is from 1712.
ZING - twit-speak for "snoozing"
ZYG - a fertilized egg
ZIGH - taking a long, deep breath and then letting it out, while asleep
(It went from Baltimore to Washington, DC, in 1844, though it sounds like it started in Boston)
1. A fraudulent scheme or practice.
2. A wild party.
ETYMOLOGY: Back-formation from rorty (boisterous, lively, jolly), of uncertain origin. Earliest documented use: 1926. Rorty is from 1868.
ROIT - a correct Cockney, yes?
AORT - a very short main artery leaving the Left Ventricle
RORO - what you do gently to your boat when you go down the stream
MEANING: adjective: Cultured; refined; sophisticated.
noun: Refinement; sophistication.
ETYMOLOGY: Back-formation from uncouth, from Old English uncuth (unknown), from un- (not) + cuth (known), past participle of cunnan (to know, to be able). Ultimately from the Indo-European root gno- (to know), which also gave us know, recognize, acquaint, ignore, diagnosis, notice, normal, anagnorisis, prosopagnosia, agnosia , cognize, gnomon, kenning, and unco. Earliest documented use: 1896. Uncouth is from 1732.
CORUTH - what sings Hallelujah! in Handel's Methiah
HOUTH - where the Lispers live
COUTY - a poorly-defined, intermediate-sized political region, somewhere between a city and a county
MEANING: noun: A college athlete who practices with the team, but does not take part in official games.
verb tr., intr.: 1. To extend eligibility by a year by making an athlete practice, but not participate, official games.
2. To delay enrolling a child by a year to avoid their being one of the youngest in the class.
"REEDS" HIRT - nickname of the trumpet player's brother; he played clarinet and sax
REDSHIFT - astronomers' tool for determining galactic speeds and distances
REDSHIRE - where Diggory Venn, Thomas Hardy's reddleman, lived
MEANING: noun: Someone who presents as being obnoxiously clever.
ETYMOLOGY: From smart, from Old English smeart + pants, short for pantaloons, plural of pantaloon. St. Pantaleone/Pantalone was a popular saint in Venice. As a result, it was also a common name among the Venetians. As a result, a comic character in the Italian commedia dell’arte was named Pantalone. The leggings this character wore became known as pantalone (plural pantaloni). And that became pantaloons in English. Earliest documented use: 1932.
SMARTY-PANT - covering for one leg, worn by a half-wit
SMARTY-RANTS - even Albert Einstein lost his cool sometimes
SMARTY-PINTS - ale promoted as improving one's intelligence
MEANING: noun: A radical or revolutionary.
ETYMOLOGY: From French, literally, without knee breeches. In the French Revolution, this was the aristocrats’ term of contempt for the ill-clad volunteers of the Revolutionary army who rejected knee breeches as a symbol of the upper class and adopted pantaloons. As often happens with such epithets, the revolutionaries themselves adopted it as a term of pride. Earliest documented use: 1790.
SAM'S CULOTTE - Murray's Pants Store, only owned by Sam
ANS: CULOTTE - reply to Qu: What are those things women wear that look like a skirt but are divided into pantlegs at the bottom?
SAN SCULPTTE - stone statuette of a saint
MEANING: noun: A very poor person.
ETYMOLOGY: From Spanish descamisado (shirtless), from des- (dis-, un-) + camisa (shirt). Earliest documented use: 1821.
NOTES: Over the years, the term has been applied to various people, such as a revolutionary in the Spanish Revolution of 1820-23 and a supporter of Argentinian President Juan Perón.
DECCA MISADO - a shellac recording of a Catholic Mass
ODES CAMISADO - poems to be read in your shirtsleeves
PESCA MISADO - a traditional Japanese soup made from fish in a dashi stock with softened miso paste mixed in
PRONUNCIATION: (BLUHD-ee shuhrt)
MEANING: noun: A symbol used to incite people to partisan outrage or animosity.
ETYMOLOGY: The term is typically used as “to wave the bloody shirt” and alludes to the literal or metaphorical symbol of a supposed injury that needs to be avenged. Earliest documented use: 1586.
NOTES: In modern times, masks are apparently the new bloody shirt.
- night work at the slaughterhouse, when the dirty deed is done"BLOODY" HIRT
- the trumpet player's brother (the sax player) who likes to spout pirate lingoBROODY SHIRT
- the outfit worn by Edward Lear's Old Man with a Beard
MEANING: adjective: Related to climbing.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin scandere (to climb). Ultimately from the Indo-European root skand- (to leap or climb), which also gave us ascend, descend, condescend, transcend, echelon, scale, and scandent. Earliest documented use: 1804.
SCANTORIAL - it's hard to find a good singer for services these days
SCANSOCIAL - I keep an eye on facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all of those
SCANSTORIAL - cash registers in Saudi Arabia
SCANS TRIAL - suing the MRI for damages
MEANING: noun: A harsh, grating or creaking sound.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin stridere (to make a harsh sound). Earliest documented use: 1632.
NOTES: The word is often used for the harsh vibrating sound produced when breathing with an airway obstruction.
STRIDOL - somebody made a graven image of Saint R.
S'TRIGOR - It's Roy Rogers' horse!
ASTRID OR - the Swedish starlet with the golden hair
MEANING: noun: A formal discussion on a subject: discourse or dissertation.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin disquirere (to investigate), from dis- (intensive prefix) + quaerere (to seek or ask). Earliest documented use: 1605.
DISQUE "IS IT I" ON - playing the Berlitz "English Made Easy" record discussing the case of the direct object after the verb être
DIS QUISTION - what I want yez ta answer
DICQUISITION - obtaining two of them
1. Relating to blood.
3. Involving bloodshed.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin sanguis (blood). Earliest documented use: 1540.
PANGUINARY - preserve for egg-laying Antarctic animals that are very graceful under water; come in Adelie, Emperor, Rock-hopper, and a few other varieties
SANS GUINARY - my old violin is missing and I'm bereft
SAN QUINARY - pertaining to a California prison
MEANING: noun: Strong desire; lust.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin concupiscere (to desire ardently), from con- (intensive prefix) + cupere (to desire). Earliest documented use: 1340.
CONCULPISCENCE - sharing the blame
CONCU-PISCENE - there's something fishy about this harem
CONCUPISCIENCE - prize-winning manipulation of the facts and distortion of the logical process
MEANING: adjective: Just right; a happy medium; optimal; not at either extreme.
ETYMOLOGY: After Goldilocks, a golden-haired girl in the fairy tale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. In the story, she visits a bear house and chooses Baby Bear’s chair, bed, and porridge because they are just right. Papa Bear’s porridge is too hot, Mama Bear’s too cold, for example. Earliest documented use: 1949. The story was first published in 1837. The earliest documented use in the literal sense of the word is from 400 years earlier.
GOLDILOOKS - King Midas' glance
GOLF i LOCKS - Lesson 1: secure your equipment between rounds
GOLDILOCHS - the Scottish lakes glow in light of the summer-evening sun
1. One who deserves success or recognition, but instead suffers from neglect or obscurity.
2. One who achieves sudden triumph or recognition, especially after a long period of neglect or obscurity.
ETYMOLOGY: After Cinderella, the fairy-tale character who is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters. With a little help from a fairy godmother, she attends a royal ball thrown by a prince. Ultimately, she marries the prince and lives happily ever after. What’s behind the name Cinderella? It’s a pseudo-translation of the French name of the girl, Cendrillon, from cendre (cinder), perhaps an allusion to her day-to-day existence, tending to the fireplace and hearth, and as a result she has cinders all over her. It may also be a hint to the hidden spark in her otherwise dismal life. Earliest documented use: 1840.
CINQERELLA - one of a set of quintuplets
CINDERELBA- when Napoleon escaped from exile he left the island in flames
CHINDERELLA - many years laterour charming Princess has put on a lot of weight
PRONUNCIATION: (UHG-lee DUHK-ling)
MEANING: noun: One that seems unattractive or unpromising at first but has great potential and later turns out to be quite attractive or successful.
ETYMOLOGY: From the protagonist of the story “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen, in which a young bird believes himself to be a duck and is unhappy because he doesn’t look like a duck, only to later learn that (spoiler alert) he is a beautiful swan. Earliest documented use: 1877.
UGLI DUCKLING - a Jamaican variant of canard à l'orange
TUGLY DUCKLING - an immature duck who won't let go of a particularly tasty crumb
UGLY DUNKLING - a falling-apart doughnut (dipped in coffee too long)
PRONUNCIATION: (SLEE-ping BYOO-tee)
MEANING: noun: Someone or something that lies dormant for a long time.
ETYMOLOGY: After the princess of a fairy tale who is cursed by a wicked fairy. The princess pricks her finger on a spindle and sleeps for 100 years until awakened by the kiss of a prince. Earliest documented use: 1729.
NOTES: In finance, a sleeping beauty is an asset, for example, a startup, that is an attractive target for takeover, but that has not yet been approached by someone. Also see Rip Van Winkle
SLEEPING BEATTY - Shh! Warren is napping
STEEPING BEAUTY - making tea from rose hips
BLEEPING BEAUTY - methinks the Lady needs to have her mouth washed out with soap
PRONUNCIATION: (prins CHAR-ming)
MEANING: noun: A suitor who fulfills the expectations of his beloved.
ETYMOLOGY: After Prince Charming, the fairy-tale hero of many stories, such as, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Earliest documented use: 1850.
PRINCE CHARRING - The Artist Formerly Known As [Squiggle] certainly likes his meat well done
PRINNE CHARMING - Hester deserves her Scarlet Letter
PRINCE CHARTING - when Harry flies in his helicopter he needs to know where he's going
MEANING: verb tr.: To confirm or support a claim, theory, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin corroborare (to strengthen), from com/cor- (together) + roborare (to make strong), from robur (oak, strength). Ultimately from the Indo-European root reudh- (red), which also gave us red, rouge, ruby, ruddy, rubella, robust, rambunctious, roborant, and russet. Earliest documented use: 1530.
ZORRO BORATE - while protecting the poor against injustice he also developed and marketed a treatment for yeast and other groin infecitions
CORRO BERATE - to scold the voice parts for being out of tune
CORE ROBO-RATE - basic fee for 100,000 unwanted telephone calls
MEANING: adjective: Of supreme importance; outstanding; praiseworthy.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin palmarius (deserving or carrying the palm), from palma (palm). The branches of the palm tree were carried as symbols of victory in ancient times. The name of the palm tree derives from the resemblance of the shape of its frond to the palm of a hand. Earliest documented use: 1646. Two related words are palmy and palmer.
PALMDRY - some folks' hands get sweaty when they're anxious, but not theirs
PALMART - friends for hire or sale
PAYMARY - what to do when paying Peter or Paul doesn't work
PALMARRY - to marry your best friend (VT and VI)
1. Of or related to a willow tree. For example, bordered, shaded, or covered by willows.
2. Gracefully tall, slender, and lithe.
ETYMOLOGY: Gracefully drooping branches of a willow have, for more than two centuries, inspired people to evoke the tree when describing a woman. The word willow is from Old English welig, ultimately from the Indo-European root wel- (to turn or roll), which also gave us waltz, revolve, valley, walk, vault, volume, wallet, helix, voluble, welter, and devolve. Earliest documented use: 1766.
HILLOWY - Mrs Rodham Clinton, to her next-door-neighbor's toddler
WILCO, WY - the military accedes to the request to pull the troops out of Cheyenne
WILLO. WHY? - Is that a mapl tree?
MEANING: noun: 1. Any of various hardy trees or shrubs of the genus Betula.
2. A birch twig or a bundle of them.
verb tr.: 1. To beat with (or as if with) a birch.
2. To admonish or to punish.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old English berc/beorc. Earliest documented use: 700.
bi-RUCH - (-U- as in "put;" guttural -ch) - a loose pronunciation of "blessed" in both Hebrew and Arabic
PIRCH - where a bird sits; also, a kind of fish
BIORCH - 1. a Swedish tennis player, 2. trying to find and make a vaccine
MEANING: noun: 1. A tree or shrub of the genus Ficus or its fruit.
2. Something of little value.
3. A gesture of contempt.
verb tr.: To dress up.
noun: Dress or array.
ETYMOLOGY: For noun 1-3: From Old French fige, from Provencal figa, from Latin fica (fig, ficus). Earliest documented use: 1225. Also see fig leaf.
For the rest: Of uncertain origin. Earliest documented use: 1839.
NOTES: It’s not clear why the fig has suffered such an undervaluation, historically speaking. The OED lists the first citation in this sense from “The Court of Love” (1450): “A Figge for all her chastite!” The word is also used for the obscene gesture of a fist with the thumb sticking out between two fingers. Another word given to us by the lowly fig is sycophant.
FING - a euphemistic expression meant to convey an obscene adjective, is also variously spelled "effing" or "f---ing"
FIRG - presumptuousy familiar name for Sarah, Duchess of York (born Sarah Margaret Ferguson), ex-wife of Prince Andrew
FIG - a representation of some reviled person or object, often subjected to burning
MEANING: adjective: Cruel; unfeeling.
ETYMOLOGY: From iron, from Old English iren + heart, from Old English heorte. Earliest documented use: 1570.
IRON-HEATED - when you should strike
L.RON-HEARTED - believing in Dianetics
IRONY-HEARTED - pretending to believe in Dianetics, knowing its origin
MEANING: adjective: Having a quarrelsome nature; belligerent.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin pugnare (to fight), from pugnus (fist). Ultimately from the Indo-European root peuk- (to prick) which is also the source of point, puncture, pungent, punctual, poignant, pounce, poniard, oppugn, repugn, impugn, pugilist, and repugnant. Earliest documented use: 1642.
PUGRACIOUS - being courteous to small dog with squished-in faces
PUNNACIOUS - addicted to wordplay
BUG NACIÒ US - the insect was born in the United States
1. Lewd or salacious.
2. Having an erect phallus.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin ithyphallicus, from Greek ithyphallikos, from ithyphallos, from ithys (straight) + phallos (phallus). Earliest documented use: 1795.
ITCHYPHALLIC - horny
THY PHALLIC - how his subjects address Pan Priapus
IT HYPE ALL I.C. - integrated circuits are to be encouraged
MEANING: adjective: Cowardly; easily frightened.
ETYMOLOGY: The word chicken has traditionally been used to describe a coward. Also, earlier people believed that the liver was the seat of courage. But chicken-livered or chicken-hearted, it’s all the same. Earliest documented use: 1616.
NOTES: The English language hasn’t been very kind to the domestic fowl. Some similar terms are chicken hawk and Chicken Little. Also see lily-livered and white-livered.
CHICKEN-LIVERIED - 1. dressed chicken, suitable for serving on formal occasions
2. dressed chicken, suitable for serving on formal occasions
THICKEN-LIVERED - hepatic cirrhosis
CHICKEN-LOVERED - the betrothed of Miles Standish (just ask John Alden)
MEANING: adjective: Exhibiting an uncontrolled or overly emotional state, volatility, attention-seeking behavior, etc.
noun: An overly emotional or unstable person.
ETYMOLOGY: Via Latin from Greek hystera (uterus), from the former belief that disturbances in the uterus resulted in such behavior. Earliest documented use: 1652.
- like a less-than-principled lawyerWHY STERIC?
- Is there a reason for the three-dimensional configuration?HYSTERICA
- Alice's description of the US (see Edward Hope, Alice in the Delighted States
: "...the continents are Aphasia, Paprika, North Hysterica, South Hysterica, Stirrup, and Nostalgia. Or something like that.")
PRONUNCIATION: (jim kroh)
MEANING: noun: The systematic practice of discriminating against Black people.
ETYMOLOGY: From Jim Crow, the name of a Black character in a 19th-century minstrel show. Earliest documented use: 1832.
JAM CROW - Knotts Berry Farm advertising
TIM CROW - Wee Cratchit says, "God Bless us, every one!"
JIM CROWN - orthographically-challenged champion body-builder's title
PRONUNCIATION: (SY-muhn li-GREE)
MEANING: noun: A harsh taskmaster.
ETYMOLOGY: After Simon Legree, a brutal slaveholder in the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896). Simon Legree has Uncle Tom, an enslaved man, whipped to death for refusing to divulge the whereabouts of two enslaved women who had escaped to freedom. Earliest documented use: 1857.
SIMON DEGREE - an MBA in Shopping Mall management
SIMON LE TREE - a simple French arbre
I'M ON LE GREEN - pretty good golf shot, non?
PRONUNCIATION: (UHNG-kuhl tom)
MEANING: noun: A person regarded as betraying their cultural allegiance by being subservient to another.
ETYMOLOGY: After Uncle Tom, an enslaved man in the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-96). Earliest documented use: 1852.
NOTES: The term is considered disparaging and offensive, especially when applied to a Black person seen as being subservient to White people. In the book, Uncle Tom is a heroic figure. For example, he disobeys the orders to beat other enslaved people. In minstrel shows he was depicted as a passive figure and that image has taken root in the language.
UNCLEFT OM - the mantra is uniform and in one piece
NUNC LE TOM - Here we are in Ancient Rome, and Brady takes the field...
UNCLE ATOM - J Robert Oppenheimer was considered by many to be the "Father of the Atomic Bomb." What does that make his younger brother Frank?
MEANING: noun: Something growing without intention or direction.
ETYMOLOGY: After Topsy, a young enslaved girl, in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Earliest documented use: 1885.
NOTES: Topsy, a young girl, is purchased by the slaveholder Augustine and she becomes friends with his daughter Eva. When Eva asks Topsy who made her, she replies, “Nobody, as I knows on. I s’pect I growed. Don’t think nobody never made me.” The cute reply became popular in the English language to refer to an unplanned or an enormous growth.
STOPSY - alternative name for the urban game "Red Light"
TOPS'L - just below the Crows' Nest
TOPHY - full of gouty lumps on fingers, hands, toes, and feet, and in the skin
PRONUNCIATION: (ant tom)
MEANING: noun: A woman considered to be a traitor to a cause.
ETYMOLOGY: Coined as a feminine version of Uncle Tom. Earliest documented use: 1956.
NOTES: There’s no such character as Aunt Tom in the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Uncle Tom’s wife is actually named Chloe. The term Aunt Jemima is also used sometimes as a synonym for Aunt Tom. The term could be derogatory and offensive, applied to a Black woman who is seen as servile to White people.
TAUNT TOM - what non-NE fans liked to do when he was a Patriot
QUANTTOM - a weird mechanics about to descend upon the Tampa football team
GAUNT TOM what he looks like after he develops anorexia
PRONUNCIATION: (zo-AHN-uh-sis, zo-uh-NOH-sis)
MEANING: noun: Any disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek zoo- (animal) + nosos (disease). Earliest documented use: 1873.
NOTES: It’s too late now. The COVID-19 has already jumped from animals to humans. Let’s not make it jump from humans to humans. So, let’s wear a mask when in a public place.
OZONOSIS - what you get from too much tri-molecular oxygen
ZOOMOSIS - what you get from participating in too many streamed on-line meetings
ZONOSIS - I'm sick of this defense !
PRONUNCIATION: (FOM-uh-teez, FOH-myts)
MEANING: noun: Any inanimate object, such as a book, money, carpet, etc., that can transmit germs from one person to another.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin fomites, plural of fomes (touchwood, tinder), from fovere (to warm). Earliest documented use: 1803.
NOTES: The word fomites is a plural of fomes, but the s at the end of the word led people to assume it’s a plural and make a singular: fomite (FOH-myt). Some would say that it’s an error, but then there are many more words formed like this: cherry, from the singular cherise, pea from the singular pease, for example. The word is often used as a singular nowadays, similar to other technically plural words such as agenda or errata.
All this should be the least of our worries right now. Don’t be a walking fomites. Wear your mask when away from home.
FORMITES - things that are shaped like ants
UFO MITES - parasites that infest visiting spaceships
FO-LITES - what the enemy uses to see, when it's dark
MEANING: adjective: Not showing any symptoms of disease.
ETYMOLOGY: From a- (not) + Latin symptoma (symptom), from Greek symptoma (occurrence), from sym- (together) + piptein (to fall). Ultimately from the Indo-European root pet- (to rush or fly), which also gave us appetite, feather, petition, compete, perpetual, propitious, appetence, lepidopterology, peripeteia, pinnate, petulant, and pteridology. Earliest documented use: 1932.
NOTES: If you’re asymptomatic you don’t show any symptoms, but it’s still possible you are infected and can transmit the infection to others. That’s why it’s important to wear a mask.
ASYMPTOMATIN - genetic material that confers freedom from disease symptoms (we wish)
ASYMPTOMAGIC - what it looks like when you have the trait above
ASYMMTOMATIC - having symptoms on only one side of your body
PRONUNCIATION: (TY-foid MAIR-ee)
MEANING: noun: A person from whom a disease or something undesirable spreads.
ETYMOLOGY: After Mary Mallon (1869-1938), a cook in New York, who was a healthy carrier (contagious but showing no symptoms: asymptomatic) of typhoid. She died of pneumonia. Earliest documented use: 1909.
NOTES: One Typhoid Mary is enough in the history of humankind. Don’t let yourself be the new Typhoid Mary. Wear your mask when out and about.
TYPHOID WARY - worried about getting a Salmonella disease
TYCHOID MARY - another late 16th century Danish astronomer, daughter of Mr Brahe
TOPHOID MARY - unfortunate woman afflicted with crippling gout
MEANING: verb tr., intr.:
1. To administer a vaccine to produce immunity against a disease.
2. To immunize against something.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin vacca (cow), because in the beginning the cowpox virus was used against smallpox. Earliest documented use: 1803.
NOTES: Don’t vacillate when it’s time to vaccinate. But until a COVID-19 vaccine appears, the next best thing is to wear a mask. Some are resistant to the idea, so we see billboards with encouraging messages: “Real Heros Wear Masks”
No, wearing a mask does not make you a hero. Neither is having to wear a mask some sort of tyranny any more than having to wear a seat belt is. But if you need a medal, we can nominate you for a Presidential Medal of Freedom. They are going cheap these days.
VACCINNATE - born with smallpox immunity
VA: CC IN A TEE - veterans can get their shot even if casually dressed
VACCINA-TEL - offers disease prevention and Web access together
MEANING: verb tr., intr.: To attach or become attached.
ETYMOLOGY: From clitic (an unstressed word that occurs in combination with another word), from enclitic/proclitic, from klinein (to lean), from klitos (slope). Ultimately from the Indo-European root klei- (to lean), which also gave us decline, incline, recline, lean, client, climax, ladder, heteroclite, and patrocliny. Earliest documented use: 1970s.
NOTES: In linguistics, to cliticize is to attach a clitic to another word. What’s a clitic? An unstressed linguistic element that can’t exist on its own and is dependent on its neighbor. An example in the previous sentence is ’t in can’t”.
CLINICIZE - translate from research to patient care
GLITICIZE - add a single medication treat diabetes, kidney trouble, and heart failure (see SGLT2 inhibitor)
CLIO-TICIZE - reduce to the stature of a small goldfish, so it fits in a Walt Disney cartoon movie
PRONUNCIATION: (OR-dn-uhns, or-duh-NAHNS)
MEANING: noun: The systematic arrangement of parts in art, literature, architecture, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From French, from alteration of Old French ordenance (order), from Latin ordinantia, from ordinare (to put in order), from ordo (order). Earliest documented use: 1660.
NOTES: The same Old French ordenance has also given us two more cousins of today’s word. So the whole lineup is:
ordnance: military supplies
ordinance: an order, decree, law, etc.
ordonnance: a systematic arrangement
I say we go back to communicating in grunts.
OR DON NANCY - then again, maybe it's the Italian nobleman with the unusual name
ORLONNANCE - conversion to a synthetic fabric
ORDO NUANCE - the ordering is very subtle
MEANING: noun: One who makes a settlement of property.
ETYMOLOGY: From alteration of settler, from settle, from Old English setlan (to seat or place). Earliest documented use: 1818.
SENT L.O.R. - I've just dispatched the Letter of Recommendation
SEAT L'OR - King Midas' Golden Chair
S.E.T.I.-LOR - the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence has its own mythology
MEANING: verb tr.:
1. To drive out something or someone undesirable, such as an evil spirit, malign influence, troubling feeling, etc.
2. To free a person or place of an evil spirit.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old French exorciser, from Latin exorcizare, from Greek exorkizein (to swear a person), from ex- (out) + horkizein (to make one swear), from horkos (oath). Earliest documented use: 1546.
EXHORCISE - to issue a command
EXO-CISE - to peel away the outer covering
EXPORCISE - to decree that bacon no longer comes from a pig
MEANING: adjective: Equal in power, force[align:center][/align], effect, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old French equipolent, from Latin aequipollent (of equal value), from aequus (equal) + pollens (able), present participle of pollere (to be strong). Earliest documented use: 1420.
EQUIPOLLEN - allergic to two irritants exactly the same amount
EQUIPULLENT - tugging just as strongly but in opposite directions
AQUIPOLLENT - determining whether people say they prefer Evian or Poland Springs water or some other brand entirely
PRONUNCIATION: (HWEEL hors)
1. Someone responsible and diligent, especially one who bears the biggest share of burden in a group.
2. A horse harnessed closest to the front wheel(s) of a carriage.
ETYMOLOGY: From wheel, from Old English hweol + horse, from Old English hors. Earliest documented use: 1708.
WHEEL HOARSE - the CEO has a sore throat and a raspy voice
WHEEL HORDE - a mob of Hell's Angels on their bikes
WHEEL GORSE - a variety of tumbleweed
1. Giving inspiration.
2. Relating to horses.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin caballus (horse). Earliest documented use: 1430.
NOTES: In Greek mythology, Hippocrene was a spring on Mt. Helicon that was created by a stroke of Pegasus’s hoof. If we can have a word coined after Greek hippos (horse), why not coin one after Latin caballus (horse), as well.
CABALLINT - what's in the conspirators' belly button
COBALLINE - blue-colored
Ca BALLITE - a spherical crystal of calcium salt
PRONUNCIATION: (HOR-ses/siz mouth)
MEANING: noun: The original or authentic source of some information.
ETYMOLOGY: The term has its origin in horse racing. If you wanted tips on how a horse was doing on a particular day, what better way than to hear it directly from the horse’s mouth? Earliest documented use: 1896.
HORSE'S MONTH - May, when the Kentucky Derby is run (except this year)
HORSE SMOOTH - flawlessly even, like a well-trained thoroughbred's gait
GORSE'S MOUTH - what a thorny invasive bush eats with
MEANING: adjective: Having qualities of chivalry, such as courtesy, honor, bravery, gallantry, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old French chevalerie, from chevalier (knight), from Latin caballus (horse). Earliest documented use: 1374.
CHI VALOROUS - the 22nd Greek letter has done heroic and yet ethical deeds
CHIVAL ROUT - the horsemen were defeated handily
CHIVAS-ROUS - like good Scotch whiskey
MEANING: adverb: Mounted with a leg on each side.
noun: A hobby horse.
ETYMOLOGY: From cock (rooster) + horse, perhaps from the strutting of a rooster. Earliest documented use: 1566.
CORK-HORSE - a child's floating swim-toy in the form of a horse that can be ridden in the water
COCK-HOUSE - medieval jargon for a brothel
CLOCK-HORSE - a model that goes around on a turntable when the clock strikes the hour
MEANING: adjective: Relating to a dystopian world, especially one characterized by social and environmental degradation, assisted by technology.
ETYMOLOGY. After the novelist and short story writer J.G. Ballard (1930-2009), whose works depict such post-apocalyptic scenarios.
BALLYARDIAN - reminiscent of the Baltimore Orioles' baseball stadium
BALLADIAN - one who specialises in singing the songs collected by Francis James Child, published as The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
BALLARD I AM - Hugo Ballard, protagonist of an unwritten story by Herman Melville, introduces himself
MEANING: noun: A meek and patient woman.
ETYMOLOGY: After Griselda, a woman in various medieval tales, who suffers without ever complaining as her husband puts her through various tests. The name Griselda is from Germanic roots meaning “gray battle-maid”. Talk about misnaming your character (see below)! Earliest documented use: 14th century.
GRISELLA - what they called Cinderella after she turned grey
URISELDA - the first-born of the author's two children
GURISEL? DA! - Is that the Russian company that makes batteries?
1. Relating to Homer, his works, or his time.
2. Epic; large-scale; heroic.
ETYMOLOGY:\. After Homer (c. 750 BCE), who is presumed to have composed the epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey. Earliest documented use: 1594.
HOME BIC - the ball-point pen I use in my kitchen
HOMER? ICK - I just can't stand The Simpsons
"WHOM," ERIC - young Severeid is admonished by his teacher for a grammatical error
MEANING: noun: A woman of stately bearing and beauty.
ETYMOLOGY: After Juno, a goddess in Roman mythology. The name is from Latin Iuno, from iuvenis (young). Ultimately from the Indo-European root. yeu- (vital force), which also gave us youth, juvenile, rejuvenate, junior, and June. Earliest documented use: 1606. The adjectival form is junoesque.
JUG? NO! - I don't like moonshine
JUNIO - after hours at the Mayo Clinic, the next doctor spoke Spanish
JA-NO - bizarre fortune-telling device
MEANING: adjective: Relating to a conditioned or predictable response; automatic; involuntary.
ETYMOLOGY: After the physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), known for his work in classical conditioning. Earliest documented use: 1922.
PAYLOVIAN - related to the World's Oldest Profession
PAULOVIAN - who received the loot after Petrovian was robbed
PA-BLOVIAN - about those aimless (and pointless) tales my father told
MEANING: noun: The practice of, love of, or addiction to, archery.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek toxon (bow) + -phily (love), based on toxophilite, coined by Roger Ascham (1515-1568). Earliest documented use: 1887.
NOTES: Roger Ascham was the tutor for teen Lizzie, future Queen Elizabeth I. His book Toxophilus was the first book on archery in English. It was a treatise on archery, but it was also an argument for writing in the vernacular: in English. You could say he shot two birds with one arrow.
TOCOPHILIC - Don't you just love being in labor
BOXOPHILIC - Little kids, who seem to like the boxes better than the presents that come in them. Cats, too.
TAXOPHILIC - one who likes to put classify things into proper categories
(and you thought it was going to be about enjoying paying money to the government. Hah!)
1. An officer on a merchant ship who is in charge of the cargo.
2. A superintendent or an agent.
ETYMOLOGY: By alteration of supracargo, from Spanish sobrecargo, from sobre (over), from Latin super (super) + cargo. Earliest documented use: 1667.
SUPER-ARGO - 1. the spaceship that brought Kal-El from Krypton to Earth; 2. Jason's ship after being modified and re-outfitted
SUPER-C-ARCO - vigorously bowed on the lowest string on a cello
SUPERBARGO - to flood a port with goods so as to clog it (the shipping equivalent of a Denial-of-Service computer attack)
MEANING: adjective: Relating to a vow, wish, desire, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin votum (vow), from vovere (to vow), which also gave us vow, vote, and devote. Earliest documented use: 1582.
VORTIVE - twisting and turning
VODIVE - plunge into the water seeking Canadian whiskey
VOTICE - an official pronouncement announcing the importance of casting your ballot
MEANING: verb intr.: To obsessively repeat meaningless words and phrases.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin verbigerare (to talk, chat), from verbum (word) + gerere (to carry on). Earliest documented use: 1656.
VERBIGERA TEA - a soothing brew made from the bark of verbigera trees
VERBIAGE RATE - number of meaningless words/phrases per minute
VERB ICE-RATE - refrigeration fee (new word, gaining popularity since Global Warming became an issue.)
MEANING: adjective: 1. Unfaithful to a cause, duty, person, belief, etc.
noun: 1. A disloyal person.
2. A coward.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old French recreant, present participle of recroire (to yield, to surrender allegiance), from Latin recredere (to yield or pledge), from re- + credere (to believe). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kerd- (heart), which also gave us cardiac, cordial, courage, record, concord, discord, credit, credo, and accord. Earliest documented use: 1330.
RECREDANT - someone whose credentials were just validated again
RECUREANT - the disease is gone once more
PRECREANT - before even being thought of
MEANING: noun: Someone attractive, silly, or pretentious.
adjective: Snobbish; pretentious; newfangled; overly complicated.
ETYMOLOGY: From fancy, a contraction of fantasy, from Old French fantasie, from Latin phantasia, from Greek phantasia (imagination, appearance), from phantazein (to make visible) + pants, short for pantaloons, plural of pantaloon. St. Pantaleone/Pantalone was a popular saint in Venice. As a result, it was also a common name among the Venetians. As a result, a comic character in the Italian commedia dell’arte was named Pantalone. The leggings this character wore became known as pantalone (plural pantaloni). And that became pantaloons in English. Earliest documented use: 1870. A related word is smarty-pants.
FANCY-PANES - stained-glass window
FANCY-PAINTS - fine art
FANNY-PANTS - very tight shorts
1. Relating to pleasant warm weather.
2. Informal; direct.
3. Hardworking; having a can-do attitude.
ETYMOLOGY: From the idea of rolling up the sleeves of one’s shirt in warm weather, in an informal setting, or in preparation to get down to work. Could also be from the idea of simply wearing a shirt, without a formal coat. From shirt, from Old English scyrte + sleeve, from Old English sliefe. Earliest documented use: 1567.
SHIFTSLEEVE - the arm covering attached to a dress that falls straight down from the shoulders
SHIRT-SALE EVE - the night before the haberdashery reduced its prices
SHIRE SLEEVE - a specific cut of clothing worn in Bilbo Baggins' homeland
PRONUNCIATION: (TROU-zuhr rohl)
MEANING: noun: In opera, drama, film, etc.:
1. A role in which a female character pretends to be a male.
2. A male part played by a female actor.
Also known as a breeches role or a pants role.
ETYMOLOGY: From the traditional view of trousers as male clothing. From an alteration of earlier trouse, from Scottish Gaelic triubhas, influenced by drawers. Earliest documented use: 1955.
TROUSER POLE - a rod stuck into the wall to hang your pants on after removal
TARO USER ROLE - a part in a play involving a Hawaiian chef
TROUSER ROPE - last resort when your belt breaks
MEANING: noun: A member of police or military trained for carrying out a sudden assault, especially one marked by brutality and violence.
ETYMOLOGY: After Nazi storm troopers, from the color of their shirts. Earliest documented use: 1932.
BRAWN SHIRT - with cutoff sleeves to show off your bod
GROWN SHIRT - made completely from organic cotton
BROWNSHIRE - severe drought in Hobbit country
1. Using experience, instinct, or guesswork as opposed to methodical planning.
2. Done without instruments.
ETYMOLOGY: The term has its origin in aviation. Before modern instruments, a pilot flew a plane based on how it felt. For example, in fog or clouds, in the absence of instrumentation one could tell whether the plane was climbing or diving by how heavy one feels in the seat. Seat of the pants is the area where one sits, i.e. the buttocks. Earliest documented use: 1929.
SEAT-OFF-THE-PANTS - what you do with your Doctor Dentins to use the toilet
SEAN-OF-THE-PANTS - saga of a plucky Irish tailor; also known as "Seven-with-One-Blow"
SEAT-OF-THE-RANTS - long-since-forgotten childhood trauma that is the source of explosive outbursts of anger in later life
MEANING: adjective: Golden; lavish.
ETYMOLOGY: After Pactolus (now called Sart Çayı), a river in ancient Lydia (in modern Turkey), known for its golden sands. Earliest documented use: 1586.
NOTES: According to the legend, King Midas bathed in the river Pactolus to get rid of his golden touch, really a golden curse. Midas’s story has given us such terms as Midas touch and Midas-eared. It was this golden sand that supposedly made Croesus rich.
PECTOLIAN - pertaining to sternal alcohol
PACTOLICAN - a pelican with an overstuffed pouch
CACTOLIAN - derived from cactus oil
PRONUNCIATION: (JED-buh-ruh juhs-tis)
MEANING: noun: Punishment before trial.
ETYMOLOGY: After Jedburgh, a town in Scotland, where in the 17th century people were summarily executed. The town lies on the Jed Water river. Earliest documented use: 1698.
NOTES: Jedburgh justice, also known as Jedwood justice or Jeddart justice, is, in essence: Hang now, ask questions later. The term is coined after Jedburgh, a town near Edinburgh, where under the orders of King James VI and I, people were executed without trial. See also: lynch.
JEDI BURGH JUSTICE - performs marriages and such in Yoda's home town
JED B: URGE JUSTICE - Attention, Sheriff B: [Black Life du jour]Matters!
JEDBURGH, JUSTINE - Durrell's anti-heroine after marrying a rich magnate
MEANING: noun: An ex-convict.
ETYMOLOGY: After Derwent, a river in Tasmania. There used to be a convict settlement on its banks. Earliest documented use: 1853.
MEANING: noun: An ex-convict.
ETYMOLOGY: After Derwent, a river in Tasmania. There used to be a convict settlement on its banks. Earliest documented use: 1853.
DER RENTER - the Berliner who takes an apartment
DER WENTER - the one who departed without notice (or payment)
DE-RENTER - the landlord who wants to convert the property to condominiums
1. Strong, dangerous winds.
2. An improvised lantern.
3. A country bumpkin.
ETYMOLOGY: After the Palouse region in northern Idaho and eastern Washington, named after the Palouse river. Earliest documented use: 1903.
PA, LOUDER! - Speak up, Dad, I can't hear you
PALE USER - drug addicts often don't get much sun
PAL OUSTER - they just deposed my buddy
PALO USHER - shows Stanford football patrons to their seats
MEANING: verb intr.: To take a winding course.
ETYMOLOGY: After Scamander (modern name: Karamenderes), a river in Turkey. The river was named after a river god in Greek mythology. Earliest documented use: 1864. Also see meander.
S. CA. MEANDER - southern California doesn't come to an end, it just wanders about near the Mexico border
SHAMAN, DER - the German word for "indigenous magical practitioner" is masculine
SCAM ENDER - a combined FBI/FCC/telecommunication-industry megaproject project
1. A mythical horse-like creature with a horn on the forehead.
2. Something or someone rare or unusual: highly desirable but hard or impossible to find.
3. A startup valued at one billion dollars or more.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin unicornis, from uni- (single) + cornu (horn), ultimately from the Indo-European root ker- (horn, head), which also gave us cornucopia, carrot, cranium, cornea, cervix, and cancer. Earliest documented use: 1225.
UNICON - there's never been a scam like this before
U NICE, RN - Glad to have met you, Nurse
UNiCoRb - a semi-crystalline mixture of Uranium, Nickel, Cobalt, and Rubidium used to make superconducting magnets
MEANING: noun: An impostor.
adjective: Counterfeit; phony.
ETYMOLOGY: After bunyip, a large mythical creature of Australian Aboriginal legend, who lives in swamps, riverbeds, etc. The word is from Wemba-Wemba or Wergaia language of the Aboriginal people in Victoria. Earliest documented use: 1848.
NOTES: The most popular usage of the word is in the term “bunyip aristocracy” to refer to people pretending to be socially superior. It was first used by the journalist and politician Daniel Deniehy satirizing an attempt to establish a hereditary peerage in Australia. The label “bunyip aristocracy” stuck and the proposal was dropped
BUNYIN - either a folklore logger or a painful big toe, take your pick
B. UNZIP - second line in the directions for putting on your new pants
CUNY IP - City University of New York has implemented its own Internet protocol
MEANING: noun: A source of trouble, especially problems of technical nature.
ETYMOLOGY: Of uncertain origin. Perhaps from an alteration of the word goblin or from Irish gruaimin (a gloomy person). Earliest documented use: 1929.
NOTES: Originally, the word gremlin was Royal Air Force slang for a low-level employee. From there it evolved to refer to a mythical creature responsible for problems in aircraft. The word was popularized by the novelist Roald Dahl, a former fighter pilot with the RAF, when he published his children’s book The Gremlins in 1943. It’s not certain how the term was coined.
GRIM LIN - that guy who wrote Hamilton looks concerned
G: REM-LINE - the seventh trace on the EEG; reflects dream activity
GREMLING - a young grem
MEANING: noun: 1. A mysterious, imaginary animal.
2. Something or someone hard to track down.
3. A snide remark.
verb intr.: To make a snide remark.
ETYMOLOGY: For noun 1, 2: Coined by Lewis Carroll in the poem The Hunting of the Snark in 1876. Earliest documented use (outside the poem): 1879.
For noun 3, verb: Of imitative origin, formerly used in the sense to snore or snort. Earliest documented use: 1866.
U.S.N. ARK - a US navy vessel for sheltering couples
SIN-ARK - an trigonometry inverse function
SNARY - trappily frightful
MEANING: noun: A prominent person in a commanding position, especially a journalist.
verb tr.: To dominate or to take control of a situation from someone.
verb intr.: To behave in an authoritative, domineering manner.
ETYMOLOGY: Bigfoot is a nickname for a Sasquatch, a large, ape-like mythical creature who lives in a remote wilderness, especially the Pacific Northwest region of the US and the adjacent part of Canada. Earliest documented use: 1833.
GIGFOOT - one billion feet, or just over one light-second (1.06 light-seconds, to be precise)
BIGFONT - what you use for newspaper headlines
BIGFOOL - who tells you to press on when you're Waist Deep in the Big Muddy
MEANING: noun: A name used internally to refer to a place, people, language, etc.
For example, Germany’s endonym is Deutschland, because that’s what Germans call their country.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek endo- (inside, within) + -onym (word, name). Some related words endogenous and endogamy
END ONLY, M? - Just play the final two bars of the music, James
END ON YMA - the list of sopranos with a 4-plus-octave range
ENDONAM - 30 April 1975, upon the capture of Saigon by the People's Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong
PRONUNCIATION: (BAY-zuh/suh-lekt, BAZ/BAS-uh-lekt)
MEANING: noun: The least prestigious variety of a language.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin basis + dialectus (dialect). Earliest documented use: 1965.
BA SELECT - What colleges did you say you're applying to?
BASIC ECT - common or garden variety shock therapy
BASIL SECT - herb worshippers
MEANING: n nnoun: A figure of speech in which someone or something is referred to by the name of something associated.
For example, the use of the word crown to refer to monarchy.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin metonymia, from Greek metonymia (change of name), from meta- (after, beyond) + onama (name). Ultimately from the Indo-European root no-men- (name) which also gave us name, anonymous, noun, synonym, eponym, renown, nominate, misnomer, moniker, and ignominy. Earliest documented use: 1553.
NOTES: When a part is used to refer to the whole, it is synecdoche. For example, the use of the word eyeballs to refer to viewers or website visitors. In metaphor, the substitution is based on analogy, in metonym on association.
ME TOO, AMY - I agree with you, Senator Klobuchar
MET ON MY _______ - How did you guys say you know each other?
METRONOMY - the art of naming cities
noun: A repetition of the same or similar endings in a sequence of words.
From homeo- (similar) from Greek homoio + -teleutos, from teleute (end). Earliest documented use: 1592.
The word also refers to a form of scribal error where a copyist’s eye skips to a word with the same ending one or more lines below where they were.
HO: MEOW ELEUTION - Look - they're washing all the sound out of the cat!
HOMEOTELEFUTON - if your TV is upsetting, you can roll over and sleep on it
ROMEO TELEUTO - young Montague gives instructions
HOMEO-PELEUTON - the main pack of bicycle racers hasn't changed
MEANING: noun: The use of a word different from the one intended.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek hetero- (different) + pheme (speaking). Ultimately from the Indo-European root bha- (to speak), which also gave us fable, fairy, fate, fame, blame, confess, and infant (literally, one unable to speak), apophasis (allusion to something by denying it will be said), confabulate, and ineffable. Earliest documented use: 1875.
HETEROPHEME - speaking in tongues
PETER O'PHEMY - the Master of Castle Phemy (compare HESTERO'PHEMY, the Mistress of Castle Phemy)
HETEROPHEME - how I know that what I smell is the blood of an Hinglishman (along with HETEROPHIME, HETEROPHOME,and HETEROPHUMM)
MEANING: noun: A two-pronged instrument, weapon, implement, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin bidens (two-pronged), from bi- (two) + dens (tooth). Earliest documented use: 1675.
BIDENT - two-toothed, like Oliver J Dragon
BADENT - Tolkien's renegade tree-monster
AIDENT - coronavirus relief program for dentists
BIDENOT - Don't stay here!
1. Something showy but worthless.
2. Nonsense or rubbish.
3. Deceit; fraud; trickery.
ETYMOLOGY: from French tromper (to deceive). Earliest documented use: 1481.
THUMPERY - beating one's chest
TRAMPERY - vintage behavior
TRUS-PERY - prostate surgery guided by Trans-Rectal UltraSound
MEANING: adjective: Sadly thoughtful; wistful.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old French pensif (pensive), from penser (to think), from Latin pensare (ponder), frequentative of pendere (to weigh). Ultimately from the Indo-European root (s)pen- (to draw, to spin), which also gave us pendulum, spider, pound, pansy, pendant, ponder, appendix, penthouse, depend, spontaneous, vilipend, pendulous, ponderous, filipendulous, equipoise, perpend, and prepend. Earliest documented use: 1393.
PENDIVE - where in the sty to go slumming
PENSIRE - the Alpha Hog
PENSAVE - why one might use email instead of writing
MEANING: noun: A goddess.
ETYMOLOGY: From Sanskrit devi (goddess). Earliest documented use: 1799.
NOTES: Devi is her middle name. Really. Kamala means lotus; also the name of a goddess.
ODE VI - the sixth in a series of laudatory poems
O DEVI - also, the introductory apostrophe of same
DEVIM - to sap one's energy
1. A fellow; guy.
ETYMOLOGY: For 1: Short for Joseph, from Hebrew Yoseph, from yasaf (to add or increase). Earliest documented use: 1846.
For 2: Origin unknown, perhaps an alteration of java. Earliest documented use: 1941.
JOEX - a female baby kangaroo (compare JOEY)
JOEI - Happiness, to a French-speaking dyslexic
JONE - the fourth beis in a game of beisbol. if you hit the ball fair and over the fence it's a jonron
MEANING: adjective: Of orangish-red or reddish-orange color.
noun: Such a color.
ETYMOLOGY: From French coquelicot (red poppy), from its resemblance to the crest of a rooster, from coq (rooster). Earliest documented use: 1795. Also see, coxcomb.
COQUELICOST - How much do you want for that scallop shell?
CO-QUELLCOT - it took both of us together to subdue that tent sleeper
COQUELI-CAT - like a calico, but less so
adjective: Having a lot of space; roomy.
From Latin capax, from capere (to take). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kap- (to grasp), which also gave us captive, capsule, capable, capture, cable, chassis, occupy, and deceive. Earliest documented use: 1614.
CARPACIOUS - something fishy
CA PAC IOUs - promissory notes from the California Political Action committee
ÇA PA. TOUS - that's just about all of Pennsylvania
MEANING: noun: 1. Speech that’s a mix of actual words and gibberish.
2. Evasive or ambiguous language meant to deceive or confuse.
verb tr., intr.: To engage in double-talk or to try to persuade with it.
ETYMOLOGY: From double, from Old French duble/doble (double), from Latin duplus (twofold), from duo (two) + talk, from Middle English talkien, from tale. Earliest documented use: 1938. Also see doublethink.
DOUBLET-TALK - discussion of vest styles
DOABLE-TALK - says what he'll do, can do what he said
DOUBLE-TACK - attach with two rows of fasteners
1. Relating to vapor.
2. Producing vapors; volatile.
3. Vague; hazy; obscure; insubstantial; transitory; unreliable; fanciful.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin vapor (steam). Earliest documented use: 1527.
VAPORONS - newly recognized sub-atomic particle, the fundamental particle of Ether
APOROUS - impenetrable
V.A. POR US - after discharge Latins support the Veterans Administration, as it helps both the country and themselves
1. Of an orange-yellow or greenish-yellow color.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin luteus (yellow), from lutum (yellowweed, mud). Earliest documented use: 1656.
LUTE-FOUS - crazy over plucked French stringed instruments
GLUTEOUS - buttery
LUK-E-OUS - "Aren't we fortunate?!"
1. Easy; not burdensome.
2. Soft; comfortable.
ETYMOLOGY: From Hindi/Urdu khushi (pleasure, happiness), from Persian khushi. The second sense probably influenced by the word cushion. Earliest documented use: 1887.
CRUSHY - using an inappropriately strong handshake
CUSSY - afflicted with Tourette's Syndrome, blurting out offensive words uncontrollably
C.U., SAY - name an organization purporting to be for consumers' protection ["Consumers' Union"]
MEANING: noun: A dense winter fog having ice particles.
ETYMOLOGY: From Shoshone paγinappih (cloud). Earliest documented use: 1860.
PROGONIP - in favor of encouraging toothless puppies to bite
PIGONAP - 3.14159... says it's going to lie down and rest now
VOGON I.P. - the intergalactic highway-builders want to copyright their ideas
MEANING: noun: Sorcery; witchcraft; spell.
ETYMOLOGY: From Irish piseog (witchcraft). Earliest documented use: 1829.
PASHOGUE - a town in Suffolk County (South Shore of Long Island, NY), a couple of miles west of Brookhaven
PISH AGUE - dysuria
PIS-HAGUE - those old Dutch cities are going from bad to worse
MEANING: noun: A sleeve or holder designed to hold a hot cup.
ETYMOLOGY: From Arabic zarf (container, sheath). Earliest documented use: 1836.
AARF - the sound made by retired dogs
OARF - coamposer of Carmina Burana
ZARO - sweet syrup with no calories
MEANING: noun: A rogue; an adventurer.
ETYMOLOGY: From Spanish picaro (rogue). Earliest documented use: 1622. Also see picaresque and picaroon.
PICRO- - prefix meaning one trillionth ( 10 ^ -12 )
PI, CLARO - What does a Spanish mathematician call the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter?
PICA PRO - someone with ingests bizarre substances, like ice or lead paint chips or dirt, for a living
MEANING: adjective: Growing in windy conditions.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek anemos (wind). Earliest documented use: 1879.
ANEMIONS - microscopic particles that suppress your red blood cell count
MNEM-IOUS - to help you remember your debts
ÂNE MIAOUS - catlike noises made by a French donkey
MEANING: adjective: Characterized by apathy, boredom, or sloth.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin acedia, from Greek akedia, from a- (not) + kedos (care). Earliest documented use: 1609. Also see acedia.
ACTEDIOUS - behave tiresomely
ABEDIOUS - sleep excessively
ACETIOUS - sharp, vinegary
1. Arising from an external source.
2. Happening by chance.
3. Appearing in an unusual place.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin adventicius (coming from outside, foreign), from advenire (to arrive), from ad- (toward) + venire (to come). Earliest documented use: 1603. Also spelled as adventious.
ADDVENTITIOUS - installing additional windows
ADVENDITIOUS - for the purpose of selling more promotional messages
ADENTITIOUS - toothless
MEANING: adjective: Bluish or grayish green.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin caesius, probably from caelum (sky). Earliest documented use: 1835.
CAESEOUS - cheesy
CADS IOUS - promissory notes, generally not repaid
CANESIOUS - a college in Buffalo NY, source of Jesuit sugar
MEANING: adjective: Of or relating to worms.
ETYMOLOGY: From French anneler (to ring), from Latin anellus, diminutive of anus (ring). Earliest documented use: 1835.
PANNE-LIDOUS - like a bread-cover
ANNELI-NOUS - We're the Parisian branch of the Anneli family...
ANNELID FOUS - ...and we're crazy over earthworms!
1. An opening in which a minor piece is sacrificed to obtain a strategic advantage.
2. A maneuver used to secure an advantage.
3. A remark used to open or redirect a conversation.
ETYMOLOGY: From Spanish gambito, from Italian gambetto (the act of tripping someone), from gamba (leg). Earliest documented use: 1656.
GUMBIT - the masticatory equivalent of "Man Bites Dog"
GAMEBIT - money purchased and used within an App
GAMBIN - where you keep chess and checkers, Clue, Sorry, Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, Magic: the Gathering, and such, when you're not playing
MEANING: noun: A fortress; defense; protection.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin propugnaculum (bulwark), from propugnare (to fight in defense of something), from pro- (toward) + pugnare (to fight), from pugnus (fist). Ultimately from the Indo-European root peuk- (to prick), which is also the source of point, puncture, pungent, punctual, poignant, pounce, poniard, oppugn, repugn, impugn, pugnacious, pugilist, and repugnant. Earliest documented use: 1773.
PRE-PUGNACULUM - little skirmish leading up to the actual conflict
PROPUGNOCULUM - in favor of the beady little eye of a small short-nosed dog
PROPUGNACUUM - a suction cleaning device that's angry all the time
1. Clumsy; unimaginative; uninspired.
5. Having the arch of the foot flattened so the entire sole touches the ground.
ETYMOLOGY: From flat, from Old Norse flatr + foot, from Old English fot. Earliest documented use: 1601. (A flatfoot is not necessarily flatfooted.
FATFOOTED - bloated and edematous from the ankle down
FEATFOOTED - world's-record-holder in the 100-meter dash
FLATFOOLED - convinced he was in the wrong apartment
MEANING: adjective: Related by blood; having a common ancestor.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin consanguineus, from con- (with) + sanguineus (bloody), from sanguis (blood). Earliest documented use: 1616.
CON SANGUINE BUS - brings prisoners back from their Anger Management sessions
CONAN GUINEOUS - Night-show host O'Brien acted like Obiwan Kenobi (or the British Colonel at the River Kwai)
CONS AN' QUINEOUS - fake COVID-19 cure is actually good for malaria
MEANING: adjective: Clumsy; tactless; lacking social grace.
ETYMOLOGY: From ham + hand. It’s the same ham (one who overacts), apparently from the minstrel song, “The Hamfat Man”. Earliest documented use: 1918.
WHAM-HANDED - a very hard-punching boxer
HAT-HANDED - begging
HAM-WANDED - a showy but incompetent magician
MEANING: noun: A feeling or state of elation or well-being.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek eu- (well) + pherein (to bear). Ultimately from the Indo-European root bher- (to carry, to bear children) that gave birth to words such as basket, suffer, fertile, burden, bring, bear, offer, prefer, birth, adiaphorism, delate, opprobrious, sufferance, and paraphernalia. Earliest documented use: 1684.
EUPHORBIA - Spurge, or bastard spurge, a genus of plants of many species, mostly shrubby, herbaceous succulents, yielding an acrid, milky juice. Most of them have powerful emetic and cathartic products. [Honest. YCLIU!]
EDUPHORIA - delight in acquiring knowledge
GUPHORIA (pr. "guf-FAW-ree-uh") - laughing loudly and uncontrollably
MEANING: noun: A set of four persons, things, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin quattuor (four). Earliest documented use: 1384.
QUAKER'N'ION - breakfast cereal made of charged oatmeal particles
'QUATER NICON - a fine camera made at very low latitudes
AQUATERNION - a waterfowl whose best friend is T-Berton
1. Relating to a nettle.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin urtica (nettle), from urere (to burn). Earliest documented use: 1836.
URBICACEOUS - citified
URTICAREOUS - makes your cavities itch
UTICA CEO: US - We've just been put in charge of that city in upstate NY
MEANING: adjective: Having a purpose, motivation, or meaning in itself; not driven by external factors.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek auto- (self) + telos (end). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kwel- (to revolve), which also gave us colony, cult, culture, cycle, cyclone, chakra, collar, telic, entelechy, talisman, col, and accolade. Earliest documented use: 1864.
AUTOTELLIC - car with built-in reporting to the police whenever you exceed the speed limit
Au HOTELIC - very posh lodgings, with all gold fixtures
AUTHOTELIC - the final chapter in a long story, such as Homer's Iliad or Odyssey
1. Relating to wine.
2. Of the color of red wine: reddish.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin vinum (wine). Earliest documented use: 1688.
PINACEOUS - bromeliad, like a pineapple
WINACEOUS - overfond of having a pair of Aces in the hole
BINACEOUS - synonym for BINARY
MEANING: noun: The young of an animal, especially of a sheep or a goat.
adjective: New-born; infant.
ETYMOLOGY: From yean (to give birth to a young), from Old English geeanian, from eanian (to bear young) + -ling (small, young, inferior). Earliest documented use: 1644.
YEARNLING - the first faint glimmering of a desire
YE, MANLING - I'm talkin' ta you, punk
YEAN LINGO - spoken in the land of Ye
MEANING: adjective: Having the form or appearance of a bear.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin ursus (bear). Ultimately from the Indo-European root rtko- (bear), which also gave us arctic (literally, of the bear), the name Ursula (diminutive of Latin ursa: bear), and arctophile (one who is very fond of teddy bears). Earliest documented use: 1791.
CURSIFORM - 1. oathsome; 2. scriptlike
ARSIFORM - British: ass-shaped
URSIFARM - where bears are grown
URSIDORM - the final room that Goldilocks entered
MEANING: adjective: Having slender fingers or toes.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek lepto- (thin) + -dactyl (toed, fingered). Earliest documented use: 1855.
KLEPTODACTYLOUS - finger-stealing (not welcome at KFC)
LEPTO-d-ACETYL OPS - skinny-fingered vinegary penguin
PRONUNCIATION: (ZAF-tik, -tig)
MEANING: adjective: Full-figured; pleasingly plump; buxom.
ETYMOLOGY: From Yiddish zaftik (juicy), from German saftig (juicy), from Saft (juice). Earliest documented use: 1921.
ZAFTING - alternative form meaning "betraying"
WAFTIG - blowing in the gentle breeze with your nose stuffed
ZAPTIG - Calvin shoots Hobbes with a Taser
MEANING: adjective: Shining at night.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin nocti- (night) + lucent (shining). Ultimately from the Indo-European root leuk- (light), which also gave us lunar, lunatic, light, lightning, lucid, illuminate, illustrate, translucent, lux, lynx, pellucid, lutestring, lustrate, lucubrate, limn, and lea. Earliest documented use: 1691.
NOCTILUSCENT - the night is deepening
NOCTILU CANT - Prime Minister Noctilu of Roumania regrets he is unable
NON-TILUCENT - my bathroom walls do not glow
MEANING: adjective: 1. Shamelessly bold.
2. Made of or relating to brass.
verb tr.: To face an embarrassing or difficult situation in a shamelessly bold manner.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old English braes (brass). Earliest documented use: 1000.
BLAZEN - how the outlaws galloped into town with their gunza
BRATEN - the wurst possible Viennese sausage
BRAKE N - - how to slow down the fourteenth car of the train
MEANING:. adjective: Relating to golden hair.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin auricomus, from aurum (gold) + coma (hair). Earliest documented use: 1864.
AURICOROUS - golden-throated voices singing together
AGRICOMOUS - your typical Roman farmer's rodent
AFRICOMOUS - Sherlock Holmes' Giant Rat of Sahara
MEANING: noun: The love of money; greed.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek phil- (love) + argyros (silver). Ultimately from the Indo-European root arg- (to shine; white) that is also the source of argue (from Latin arguere, to make clear), argillaceous (clayey), and French argent (money). The word also appears in the chemical symbol for silver (Ag) and in the name of the country Argentina (where flows Rio de la Plata, Spanish for “river of silver”). Earliest documented use: 1529.
PHIL-ARMY RY. - train taking fans from Philadelphia to West Point
PHILARGYRO - pile the makings into our submarine sandwich at that stand next to the Liberty Bell
CHILARGYRY - ...keep the sandwiches in the refrigerator till we get there
MEANING: adjective: Unimportant; of little worth.
ETYMOLOGY: Alluding to a tin pot, in quality or sound, broadly from a reference to tin as a base metal compared to precious metals. Earliest documented use: 1838.
INPOT - your status after calling a bet
LIN-POT - composer Manuel Miranda's beer-belly
TIN PLOT - one kind of mining survey
PRONUNCIATION: (led buh-LOON)
MEANING: noun: A complete failure.
ETYMOLOGY: From lead (a heavy metal), from Old English lead + balloon, from Italian dialectal ballone (large ball), augmentative of balla (ball). Ultimately from the Indo-European root bhel- (to blow or swell), which also gave us ball, boll, bole, bulk, bowl, boulevard, boulder, ballot, folly, and fool. Earliest documented use: 1924.
PLEAD BALLOON - dialog from Judge Parker comic strip
LEAD GAL LOON - the matriarch of the loon flock
LEAN BALLOON - a zeppelin
PRONUNCIATION: (ir-ih-FYOO-tuh-buhl, ih-REF-yuh-tuh-buhl)
MEANING: adjective: Impossible to deny or disprove; indisputable.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin in- (not) + refutare (to rebut). Ultimately from the Indo-European root bhau- (to strike), which also gave us refute, beat, button, halibut, buttress, confute, prebuttal, and surrebuttal. Earliest documented use: 1620.
MR REFUTABLE - never made a statement that couldn't be disproved
IRREFUL, ABLE - angry but competent
IRREPUTABLE - nobody anywhere knows anything about him !
MEANING: noun: Loss of memory or a gap in one’s memory.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin amnesia, from Greek amnesia (forgetfulness), from a- (not) + mimneskesthai (to remember). Ultimately from the Indo-European root men- (to think), which also gave us mind, mental, mention, automatic, mania, money, praying mantis, monument, music, amnesty, mantra, remonstrate, monish, and mantic. Earliest documented use: 1786.
NAMNESIA - inability to learn the lessons of history
DAMNESIA - complaint of a football player after multiple ACL injuries
AMNOSIA - "I poke around other people's business more than you do"
MEANING: adjective: Originating in the mind (having a psychological rather than a physiological cause).
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek psycho- (mind) + -genic (producing). Earliest documented use: 1897.
PSYCHO GENIE - Aladdin's companion, such as voiced by Robin Williams
PAY C.H.O.- GENIC - This new DNA will let you breed corn with a higher carbohydrate content, but it'll cost you
P.S. YECHOGENIC! - Oh, and another thing: that's disgusting !
MEANING: noun: Excessive or abnormal thirst.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek poly- (much, many) + dipsa (thirst). Earliest documented use: 1661.
- misreading your card as a ten when it's really an eightPOLYDIP ASIA
- an Indonesian RijstafelPOLY DISSIA
- that parrot just cussed you out !
MEANING: noun: An inclination to behave in a particular way
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin pro- (toward) + pendere (to weigh). Ultimately from the Indo-European root (s)pen- (to draw, to spin), which also gave us pendulum, spider, pound, pansy, pendant, ponder, appendix, penthouse, depend, spontaneous, vilipend, pendulous, filipendulous, equipoise, perpend, pensive, and floccipend. Earliest documented use: 1550.
PR OPEN SITE - where publicists and agents are welcome
PROP ENMITY - I can fly any jet plane made, but I just don't get along with the other kind...
PRODENSITY - I like the massive ones
PRONUNCIATION: (mis-oh-KY-nee-uh, mi-soh-)
MEANING: noun: A hatred of new ideas.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek miso- (hate) + -cainea (new). Earliest documented use: 1938.
MISO-CAINE - Japanese soup that numbs the back of your throat
MISS O'CAINEA - that Irish lass whose father had a boat named after him
ISO-CAINEA - the class of compounds with the same atomic composition as cocaine, but different in molecular structure
MEANING: noun: The practice of having two or more female partners.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek poly- (many) + -gyny (woman). Ultimately from the Indo-European root gwen- (woman), quean, banshee, zenana, gynecology, and gynophobia (the fear of women). Earliest documented use: 1780.
NOTES: A counterpart of this term is polyandry, the practice of having two or more male partners. The generic term is polygamy, having two or more partners.
POLYGON Y - twenty-fifth in a series of closed figures comprised of straight lines chained end-to-end, never crossing and with the last completing the chain by attaching to the free end of the first
POLOGYNY - the all-women's polo team
POLGY, NY - a Catskills community with mostly Polish residents
MEANING: noun: The theory or study of duty and obligation, with a focus on the right action as determined by a set of rules, irrespective of the consequences of the action.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek deont- (obligation) + -logy (study). Earliest documented use: 1829.
DENTOLOGY - knowleldge of teeth
DON'T-OLOGY - the art of proscribing
ODEONTOLOGY - the study of grand roofed performance venues
DEO-NATOLOGY - lore pertaining to the birth of the gods
MEANING: adjective: Living or growing in woods.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin silvi- (wood) + -colous (inhabiting). Earliest documented use: 1906.
SILVICOLOURS - what the Lone Ranger's horse looks like on the BBC
SILICOLOUS - afflicted with ludicrous bowel habits
SILICOLOUS - having predominantly the characteristics of element #14
MEANING: noun: An ill-bred, vulgar man.
ETYMOLOGY: From bound (to leap or jump), from French bondir (to bounce), from Latin bombitare (to hum), from Latin bombus (humming), from Greek bombos (booming, humming). Earliest documented use: 1842.
BOXUNDER - what is beneath the gazinta, with the gazonta uppermost. See also GO-UNDER
BOULDER - more stonily impudent
B.U. UNDER - site of much of the action in Neal Stephenson's The Big U
MEANING: adjective: Haughty; pretentious.
ETYMOLOGY: From top + loft (upper floor, attic), from Old English loft (air, sky), from Old Norse loft (air, sky, upper room). Earliest documented use: 1859.
- an anti-snobbery movementTOOL OF TY
- A Louisville Slugger bat, 34.5 inches long, weighing 40 to 44 oz. (see here
)TOP OF TEY
- The Daughter of Time
, or perhaps Brat Farrar
, by mystery writer Josephine Tey. It's hard to give one the edge over the other.
MEANING: noun: One who worries excessively and unnecessarily.
ETYMOLOGY: From worry, from Old English wyrgan (to strangle) + wart, from Old English wearte. The word wart was apparently chosen for alliteration. Earliest documented use: 1956.
WORRYWARP - the twisted viewpoint you get from worrying too much
WORRYTART - pastry you eat when you're stressed
LORRYWART - fanciful name for the ding you got in a London parking lot on your new truck
MEANING: noun: A carefree, thoughtless person.
ETYMOLOGY: A combination of air, from Latin aer (air) + -ling (small, young, inferior). Earliest documented use: 1611.
AIRLING'S - flight leaving from Dublin
HAIRLING - Carnogie for men
AIRFLING - tossing my baby son straight up and then catching him again
MEANING: noun: Approval, praise, commendation, or official sanction.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin approbation, from ad- (toward) + probatus, from probare (to test the goodness of). Earliest documented use: 1393.
APT. PROBATION - when you try living in a flat for a month to see how you like it, before you sign the lease
AP-PRONATION - turning the news agency onto its belly
A.B. PROBATION - they announce your degree but don't actually award it to you until you've proved you deserve it
PRONUNCIATION: (PROM-uhn-tor-ee, -tree)
1. A point of high land projecting into a body of water.
2. A projecting part of the body, for example, of a bone.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin promontorium, alteration of promunturium, influenced by mons (mountain). Ultimately from the Indo-European root men- (project), which is also the source of menace, mountain, eminent, promenade, demean, amenable, mouth, and minatory. Earliest documented use: 1548.
PROMONITORY - in favor of watchers
PROTON TORY - a subatomic British politician
PROMO-STORY - an infomercial
PRONUNCIATION: (EK-si-jen-see, eg-ZIJ-uhn-see)
MEANING: noun: An urgent need or requirement.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin exigere (to demand, to drive out), from ex- + agere (to drive). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ag- (to drive, draw), which also gave us act, agent, agitate, litigate, synagogue, ambassador, exiguous, incogitant, intransigent, cogent, axiomatic, ambagious, ambage, agonistes, and actuate. Earliest documented use: 1588.
EX-AGENCY - used to work for the CIA
EXILENCY - 1. title of great respect; 2. expulsion
EIGENCY - property of a vector which, when operated by a non-zero square matrix, gives a scalar multiple of itself
MEANING: verb tr., intr.: To interpret, understand, analyze, or explain.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin construere (to construct), from con- (with) + struere (to pile up or arrange). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ster- (to spread), which also gave us structure, industry, destroy, street, stratagem, stratum, stratocracy, and Russian perestroika. Earliest documented use: 1362.
CORNS TRUE - when your feet tell you it's going to rain, and it does
CONSTRUM - the prisoner invented a new guitar-picking style
COMSTRUE - what happens to your dream when you wish upon a star
PRONUNCIATION: (dis-IN-truh-stuhd, dis-IN-tuh-res-tid)
1. Free of bias or self-interest; impartial.
2. Indifferent or not interested.
3. No longer interested.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin dis- (apart, away) + interesse (to be in between), from inter- (between) + esse (to be). Earliest documented use: 1631.
DISH - INTERESTED? - look at the figure on that girl!
DIS I'N'T 'ERS, TED - Teddy, it doesn't belong to that woman
DIS IN: THERE'S TED ! - Headline: "Senator Kennedy found!"
MEANING: noun: Judgment or opinion.
ETYMOLOGY: A dialect variant of verdit, from verdict, from Anglo-Norman ver (true) + dit (statement, speech), from dicere (to say). Ultimately from the Indo-European root deik- (to show, to pronounce solemnly), which also gave us judge, verdict, vendetta, revenge, indicate, dictate, paradigm, interdict, fatidic, diktat, retrodiction, and interdigitate. Earliest documented use: 1738.
PARDY - what you do when you break it
VERDY - a green opera composer
BARDY - Shakespearean
...this shortening (or respelling of a word based on its pronunciation) happens more often than you might think. Chances are you already use such words without a second thought. Examples: ornery (from ordinary), raiment (from arrayment), and donut (from doughnut).
An extreme example of this process of linguistic evolution is the transition of eleëmosynary to the present-day alms.]
MEANING: adjective: Doubtful; undecided; hesitating.
ETYMOLOGY: An alteration of dubious. Earliest documented use: 1871.
J-JUBEROUS - resembling a small jelly candy
JABEROUS - like a manxome creature with biting jaws and snatching claws and flaming eyes, that burbles as it whiffles through the woods
UBEROUS - for hire to drive you somewhere
MEANING: verb intr.: To crouch or huddle.
verb tr.: To squeeze.
ETYMOLOGY: A dialect variant scrouge (to squeeze or crowd), perhaps influenced by crouch. Earliest documented use: 1844.
SHROOCH - when the catch-of-the-day was Haddock, instead of Cod (cf. scrod/shrod)
SACRO-OCH - said by a Scotsman with a pain shooting down his leg
SCROOGH - he who said "Bah, 'umbug"
[not "scrunch" ?]
– a leading British soccer player (plays for Leicester City).
– a leading British soccer player (plays for Leicester City).
Interesting. One might expect Anu to be aware of the football world. Is there also a Jouber or a Scrooch or a Meech who plays?
MEANING: verb intr.:
1. To move in a furtive manner.
2. To loiter.
3. To whine.
ETYMOLOGY: A variant of mitch (to steal, hide, shirk), from Old French muchier (to hide). Earliest documented use: 1624.
CME - ECH - never was fond of compulsory Continuing Medical Education
MERCH - Newspeak for "sales goods"
MEECE - several gadgets I use for I/O on my old computers
MEANING: noun: 1. A snob. 2. A nose or snout.
verb tr.: To treat with disdain.
ETYMOLOGY: A variant of snout, of German/Dutch origin. Earliest documented use: 1861.
SMOOT - a unit of length, measuring about 67 inches. Used in particular to measure the length of the MIT Bridge (Cambridge, MA), which is about 364.4 Smoots long (plus-or-minus one ear)
SUNOOT - the weather on a bright day in Glasgow
SNOWT - there's been a blizzard!
MEANING: adjective: Desiring strife.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin diversus (diverse), from divertere (to turn aside), from di- (away, apart) + vertere (to turn) and volens, present participle of velle (to wish). Earliest documented use: 1612.
DIVERSIVALENT - describing an element with many different possible valencies, e.g. carbon or silicon
DIVERS "I VOLE...NOT!" - assorted protestations in response to the question "Are you a man or a rodent?"
DIVER'S TiVo LENT - Greg Louganis doesn't have his TV streamer right now, but he expects it to be returned shortly
MEANING: noun: An insignificant contemptible person.
ETYMOLOGY: Of Scottish origin. Earliest documented use: 1582.
MATCHET - what you do to call a bet at the poker table
SMATSHET - what you will probably do if you see an ugly bug on the table in front of you
SMART CHET - what David Brinkley called his fellow newscaster, after a particularly penetrating insight
PRONUNCIATION: (mench, mensh)
plural menschen (MEN-chuhn, MEN-shuhn) or mensches
MEANING: noun: A decent, upright, honorable person.
ETYMOLOGY: From Yiddish mentsh (man, human being), from Middle High German mensch, from Old High German mennisco. Earliest documented use: 1911.
AMENSCH - response to a prayer, mumbled by a drunken congregant
MENSAH - a social group of very high-IQ Southerners
MEN'S "ICH" - a treatise about the German male ego
MEANING: adjective: Staying calm even in difficult circumstances.
ETYMOLOGY: From Middle English flap (to beat or shake), probably of imitative origin. Earliest documented use: 1958.
UN-LAPPABLE - impossible to outrace by more than one full length around the course
UNIFLAPPABLE - when you can shake the wrinkles out, but only once
UNFAPPABLE - Major Hoople when he can't be disconcerted or taken aback
MEANING: adjective: Careful to consider all circumstances and potential consequences; prudent.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin circumspicere (to look around; to take heed), from circum (around) + specere (to look). Earliest documented use: 1422.
CIRCUMSPENT - all-around just plain broke
CIRCUS PECT - can't wait to get to out see the Big Top and the wild animals (especially the trained chickens)
SIR CUMSPECT - an occasional visitor the the Round Table, never without his eyeglasses
MEANING: adjective: Relating to the chase or hunting.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek kunagos (hunter), from kuon (dog) + igetis (leader). Earliest documented use: 1716.
CYNEGESIC - feeling like a dog
CINEGETIC - always looking for a good movie
ICYNEGETIC - promoting melting
MEANING: verb intr.: 1. To make a shrill sound as if of a cat in heat or of cats quarreling.
2. To quarrel noisily.
noun: 1. The cry of a cat in heat.
2. A shrill sound, such as a shriek or a loud cry.
ETYMOLOGY: From Middle English caterwawlen, from cater (tomcat or cat) + wawlen (to howl). Earliest documented use: 1386.
CATERWALL - when the side of the house is covered with gypsy moth larvae
CATE, RAUL - Señor Cate's full name
CATER WAFL - what you'll get if you're careless about arranging for brunch
PRONUNCIATION: (DAW-gid, DOG-id)
MEANING: adjective: Stubbornly determined or persistent.
ETYMOLOGY: If you have ever faced a dog digging in his heels, you know what dogged is. The word dog is from Old English docga. Also see recalcitrant. Earliest documented use: 1300.
DOGGE - an olde Irish setter (see aso DOG RED)
NOGGED - tipsy after too much New Years' cheer
DONGED - the next step after your car is dinged
MEANING: adjective: Relating to the dog days.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin canicularis (relating to the dog star, Sirius), from canicula (small dog, Sirius), from canis (dog). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kwon- (dog), which is also the source of canine, chenille (from French chenille: caterpillar, literally, little dog), kennel, canary, hound, dachshund, corgi, cynic, cynosure, cynegetic, canaille, and cynophobia. Earliest documented use: 1398.
CANINULAR - like small eyeteeth
CARICULAR - of the schedule of what's to be learned in Spelling class (obviously much needed)
CLANICULAR - like a small totem
PRONUNCIATION: (FAT cat)
MEANING: noun: A rich, privileged person, especially one who influences elections by making contributions to political campaigns.
ETYMOLOGY: The term was originally used in the 1920s to describe rich political backers in the US elections. Earliest documented use: 1925.
FAT RAT - Templeton after a week at the fairground
FAT CAPT - Major Hoople before his promotion
FATMAT - 1. where Garfield sleeps; 2. place for Sumo wrestling matches
MEANING: adjective: Surrendering one’s integrity for something, such as power, money, fame, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: After the legend of Faust who sold his soul to the devil. Earliest documented use: 1876.
NOTES: The legend of Faust is based upon a real person, Johann Georg Faust (c. 1480-1540), a magician, astrologer, and alchemist. The story has been tackled countless times, from Christopher Marlow in his play Doctor Faustus and Goethe in his play Faust to The Simpsons episode “Bart Sells His Soul”.
FAUSCIAN - expert in his field of viral diseases, and implacably devoted to the Scientific Method
FAULTIAN - blame John of Scotland
FRAUSTIAN - wife of Herr Stian
MEANING: adjective: Overly concerned with one’s appearance, demeanor, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: After Mr. Turveydrop, a character overly concerned with deportment, in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, 1852. Earliest documented use: 1876.
NOTES: Mr. Turveydrop is a dance studio owner. He’s a conceited humbug, consumed with his deportment. As Dickens describes him:
He was a fat old gentleman with a false complexion, false teeth, false whiskers, and a wig. He had a fur collar.
Turveydrop laments: England -- alas, my country! -- has degenerated very much, and is degenerating every day. She has not many gentlemen left.
SURVEYDROPIAN - like a poll that deliberately leaves out important variables
TURVEYEDROPIAN - like the treatment for keratoconjunctivitis sicca marketed by the TURV company
CURVEYDROPIAN - falling when released, but somehow not straight down
MEANING: adjective: Indifferent or uncaring.
ETYMOLOGY: After Gallio, a Roman senator, who refused to take action in a dispute. Earliest documented use: 1920.
ALLIONIC - none of it polar
GALLEONIC - shipshape and majestic
GALL-IRONIC - combining sarcasm with chutzpah
MEANING: noun: A person regarded as dim-witted or foolish.
ETYMOLOGY: After theologian John Duns Scotus (c. 1265/66-1308). Earliest documented use: 1530.
NOTES: John Duns Scotus was a Catholic priest and Franciscan friar (literally, brother, from French frère: brother) in the 13th century. In his time he was known as a sophisticated thinker and philosopher and given the name “the Subtle Doctor”. Protestantism came along in 1517. As these things go, they now considered his followers, known as Dunses or Dunsmen, as hair-splitting and resistant to new learning. The word was later respelled as dunce, and took on the meaning as someone incapable of learning. The word also gave rise to a dunce cap, the conical hat, formerly used to punish schoolchildren.
DUNCEE - Scottish city, just up a grade from Dundee
DUNYE - what I'll do if ye owe me money and ye don't pay
MUNCE - city in Indana
We have a high school here: Scotus central.
MEANING: verb tr.: To willfully damage another’s property.
ETYMOLOGY: After Vandals, a Germanic tribe who overran Gaul, Spain, and northern Africa, and in 455 CE sacked Rome. Earliest documented use: 1800.
VAN-DYALIZE - to treat for severe kidney disease in a mobile vehicle
VINDALIZE - to marinate (usually meat) in spices, vinegar and garlic
VANDA-LIKE - harpsichord music played in the manner of Frau Landovska
MEANING: noun: The fear of public speaking.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek glosso- (tongue, language) + -phobia (fear). Earliest documented use: 1964.
GLISSOPHOBIA - fear of sliding
GLOSSOPHORIA - delight in gleaming
FLOSSOPHOBIA - fear of being scolded for not following the dental hygienist's instructions
MEANING: adjective: Made up of both good and evil.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek agathos (good) + kakos (bad). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kakka-/kaka- (to defecate), which also gave us poppycock, kakistocracy, cacophony, cacology, and cacography. Earliest documented use: 1834.
AGNATHOKAKOLOGICAL - congenitally lacking a jaw, and yet bad-mouthing everything
AGATH-OAKOLOGICAL - Growing Acorns for Fun and Profit
AGATHO-KOKO-LOGICAL - full of corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative
MEANING: noun: A task given, especially as a punishment.
ETYMOLOGY: In the beginning, a pensum was the amount of wool to be spun. Eventually, the word became generic and came to refer to a piece of work or task. Later, it morphed into another specialized form: a task given as a school punishment. The word is from pendere (to hang, weigh), ultimately from the Indo-European root (s)pen- (to draw, to stretch, to spin), which also gave us pendulum, spider, pound, pansy, pendant, ponder, appendix, penthouse, depend, spontaneous, vilipend, filipendulous, perpend, equipoise, pendulous, and pensive. Earliest documented use: 1667.
PERSUM - how you pay an accountant on piecework
OPENSUM - a sub-total
WENSUM - and you lose some
MEANING: noun: The assemblage of bubbles, in a glass of champagne, for example.
ETYMOLOGY: From French perlage, from perle (pearl). Earliest documented use: 1983.
PER PAGE - how you pay a typist
PERIL AGE - a time filled with danger
PER LAGER - how the pub charges
MEANING: adjective: Spraying saliva when speaking.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek sialon (spit, saliva) + Latin loqui (to speak). Earliest documented use: 1656.
DIALOQUENT - holding both sides of a conversation with yourself
SIALOQUEST - seeking saliva. As Randy Claggett said, "Mouth! Be Moist!" (see SPACE, by James MIchener)
SÍ! AMO QUENT! - "Yes, I love Quentin," said the Señorita
PRONUNCIATION: (muhr-chunt PRINS)
MEANING: noun: A merchant or businessman with sufficient wealth to wield political power.
ETYMOLOGY: Alluding to someone who has acquired great wealth and behaves like a prince. From merchant, from Latin mercari (to trade), from merx (goods) and prince, from primus (prime) + capere (to seize). Earliest documented use: 1760.
MERCHANT PRANCE - store-owner does capers after closing wonderful deal
MERE CHANT PRINCE - Gregory is the King; his son hasn't nearly the resonance
ME CHANT "PRINCE !" - 'cuz that's how he was formerly known
MEANING: noun: A worker, athlete, performer, etc. who is competent and reliable, but undistinguished.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old French jornee (a day’s work or travel), from Latin diurnum (day), from dies (day). Ultimately from the Indo-European root dyeu- (to shine), which also gave us adjourn, diary, diet, circadian, journal, journey, quotidian, sojourn, diva, divine, Jupiter, Jove, July, Zeus, jovial, deify, and Sanskrit deva (god). Earliest documented use: 1463.
TOURNEYMAN - a skilled player who participates only in high-level competition
JOURNEY PAN - thumbs-down review of a tour
JOURNEYMOAN - declaration of seasickness while on a cruise
MEANING: noun: One who forms a romantic relationship with a rich person for money.
ETYMOLOGY: From the metaphorical use of the term for someone who digs for gold. Earliest documented use: 1826 in a literal sense, 1911 in a figurative sense.
GOLD-DAGGER - King Midas' preferred weapon (of necessity)
GOLD-JIGGER - extremely classy and expensive whiskey
GOLF-DIGGER - a duffer who strews divots left and right
MEANING: verb tr.: To handle roughly, but in a playful manner.
verb intr.: To engage in boisterous play.
noun: Boisterous play.
ETYMOLOGY: Originally, a rough house was the place where a brawl occurred. Over time, the term softened into a synonym for horseplay and became a verb as well. Earliest documented use: 1882.
TROUGHHOUSE - the enclosure that protects the common water and feed supply
ROUGH TO USE - not easy to employ
POUGH HOUSE - the first building erected in Poughkeepsie, New York
PRONUNCIATION: (BOD-ee bloh)
MEANING: noun: A severe setback or disappointment.
ETYMOLOGY: The term is from boxing, referring to a blow to the torso which can be incapacitating due to its proximity to internal organs. Earliest documented use: 1789.
BODY BLOG - Charles Atlas' publicity channel, 75 years later
CODY BLOW - another name for Hurricane Buffalo Bill
BO DYE/BLOW - Ms Derek's standing order at the hairdresser's
PRONUNCIATION: (KWEEN-buh-roh may-uhr)
MEANING: noun: A position involving pomp and show, but no real power or authority.
ETYMOLOGY: After Simon the tanner who becomes the mayor of Queenborough in Thomas Middleton’s 1620 play Hengist, King of Kent, or The Mayor of Quinborough. Queenborough is a small town in Kent, UK. Earliest documented use: 1668.
QUEUE'N'BOROUGH MAYOR - informal chief of that funny pub
QUEEN BE ROUGH MAYOR - Freddy Mercury is a harsh governor
QUEENBOROUGH PAYOR - trying to pay the toll on the 59th Street bridge
MEANING: noun: A reformatory for young offenders.
ETYMOLOGY: After Borstal, a village in Kent, UK, where such an institution was first set up. Earliest documented use: 1907.
FORSTAL - 1. to anticipate, so as to preclude; 2. a US aircraft carrier
BARSTAL - where cowboys' horses gather for a drink
BURST AL - why aluminum pipes never made any headway with plumbers
MEANING: noun: The policy of giving generous compensation, benefits, unemployment relief, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: After Poplar, a district in London, where in 1921 the mayor, George Lansbury, and the council decided to use the tax money to provide relief to the poor instead of sending it to London. The mayor and councilors were imprisoned for contempt of court and the incident is known as the Poplar Rates Rebellion. Rate is the British term for property tax. Earliest documented use: 1922.
POLARISM - the doctrine that the Earth is flat, with its center at the North Pole
P.O. PLANISM - a conspiracy spread only by mouth, to avoid leaving a paper trail
POPLEARISM - clearing your Eustachian tubes while in your private jet
PRONUNCIATION: (SHROZ/SHROOZ-bree/ber-ee/buh-ree klok)
MEANING: noun: Something precise or exact.
ETYMOLOGY: After Shrewsbury, a town in west UK. Earliest documented use: 1598.
NOTES: In Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1 John Falstaff claims that he and Hotspur “fought a long hour by Shrewsbury clock” in the Battle of Shrewsbury. The term Shrewsbury clock here refers to a public clock as most people didn’t have clocks at the time. The idiom by a Shrewsbury clock has come to imply exactly or precisely, sometimes with a hint of exaggeration or irony.
SHREWSBURY CLICK - welcoming the sunrise with an unusual single brief high-frequency cricket-like chirr, characteristic of a clock found in west UK.
SHREWSBURY COCK - a unique weathervane atop the clock tower in Shrewsbury, known for the atypical noise it makes at dawn welcoming the sunrise with an unusual single etc. (see SHREWSBURY CLICK above)
SHREWSBURN CLOCK - device for timing the roasting of unwelcome small voracious burrowing rodents
PRONUNCIATION: (SKAR-buh-ruh war-ning)
MEANING: noun: A very short notice or no notice.
ETYMOLOGY: After Scarborough, a town on the northeast coast of the UK. It’s unclear how Scarborough became associated with this idea though one conjecture is about robbers being given summary punishment. Earliest documented use: 1546.
SCARBOROUGH EARNING - the profits from selling parsley, sage and rosemary
What's that you say? What about... I'm sorry, but it's late, and we've run out of...
SEAR BOROUGH WARNING - Don't play with those matches, kids, you'll burn down half the city!
SCARBOROUGH WARMING - As I was saying...
SCARBO ROUGE WARNING - Watch out for old Scarbo, with the red beard; he's.a mean one
Peter, Paul, and Mary really put the place on the map, didn't they! :-)
MEANING: adjective: Tiny.
noun: Someone or something very small.
ETYMOLOGY: After Lilliput, an island nation in Jonathan Swift’s satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels (1726). Earliest documented use: 1867.
NOTES: In his travels, Gulliver lands in Lilliput where people are only six inches tall. He may appear to be a giant to them, but it’s all relative. Soon he’d visit a land where he himself appears as a lilliput to them. The word is also used in the form: lilliputian.
LILLIPUP - a young Lillus; extremely cute, and they make great pets
MILLIPUT - a bad golf stroke on the green; it sends the ball only 1/1000th of the way to the cup
LILLIPOT - what you cook your Liliaceae in
MEANING: adjective: Absurdly fanciful or impractical.
ETYMOLOGY: After Laputa, a floating island in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726). Earliest documented use: 1866.
NOTES: In the book, a resident of the floating island is called a Laputian; however, in the English language we use the word Laputan. Laputians/Laputans are described as people who are scientists and philosophers, lost in the arts of music, mathematics, technology, and astronomy. Practical matters do not concern them much. “Their houses are very ill built, the walls bevil [sloping], without one right angle in any apartment.”
That said, in that work of fiction, Laputans/Laputians discover two moons of the planet Mars, more than 150 years before the actual discovery by the real-life astronomer Asaph Hall. In Swift’s honor, Mars’s moon Deimos has a crater named Swift and the moon Phobos has geographical features named after places in Gulliver’s Travels: Laputa Regio and Lagado Planitia.
Here’s to Laputans and their “impractical” pursuits!
LA PUTIN - First Lady of Russia
LARUTAN - runner-up in the Name-That-Patent-Medicine contest. "Provides peristaltic stimulation," said the promoters, naturally.
LAPUTA - (Don't ask me. This is a family website.)
MEANING: noun: Someone very old and decrepit.
ETYMOLOGY: After struldbrugs, the name for people in Gulliver’s Travels who grow old and decrepit, but never die. Earliest documented use: 1773.
NOTES: In Gulliver’s Travels, struldbrugs is the name given to a small group of immortal people who live in the kingdom of Luggnagg. They continue to grow old and at the age of eighty they are regarded as legally dead, though they continue living on a small pension from the state.
STRULD BUG - all the VW Beetles of that model were made in the factory in Struld
STRUL - DO RUG! - instructions to Strul, my housekeeping robot
STAR ULDBRUG - the most gifted and popular Uldbrug
(noun: YAH-hoo, interjection: ya-HOO)
noun: A person who is boorish, loud, disruptive, etc.
interjection: Expressing excitement, delight, or triumph.
For noun: After Yahoos, a race of brutish creatures in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Earliest documented use: 1751.
For interjection: Apparently of echoic origin. Earliest documented use: 1976.
YUHOO - a call to attract someone's attention
YAPOO - French baby-talk meaning "No More!" (short for il n'y a plus)
YAHOOK - what ya throw at yahoop when yalayup isn't working
MEANING: noun: Something very large.
ETYMOLOGY: After Brobdingnag, a region where everything is enormous, in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Earliest documented use: 1731.
NOTES: For scale, people in Brobdingnag are about 60 feet tall. In the English language the form Brobdingnagian is also used. According to Gulliver, the place should have been spelled as Brobdingrag. Also, as per the map included in the book, Brobdingnag/Brobdingrag is located off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. Not sure why large mythical creatures are placed in this part of the world. Also see, Bigfoot.
BROODING NAG - not only moody but also a persistent pest
BROBDING "NAY" - a resounding negative from the village of Brobd
BOBDING NAG - At the Camptown Races, I'll bet my money on her; somebody bet on the bay
MEANING: noun: Self-propelled or self-directed motion or energy.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek auto- (self) + kinein (to move). Earliest documented use: 1678.
AUTO KINE-STY - mobile pig housing
AUTOKINESS - be considerate of your vehicle
Au TO KLINE, SY - give the first-place medal to Patsy, Seymour
PRONUNCIATION: (hy-puh-GOO/GYOO-zee/zhee-uh, -zhuh)
MEANING: noun: A diminished sense of taste.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek hypo- (under) + -geusia (taste). Earliest documented use: 1888.
NOTES: A complete lack of taste is ageusia (feel free to use the word metaphorically). And an extremely keen sense of taste is oxygeusia, from Greek oxy- (keen or sharp). How does the word oxygen fit in here? In 1778, Lavoisier named a newly discovered gas oxygen (literally, sharp giving) because he mistakenly believed that it was part of all acids. He was guillotined, not for the misnaming, but for the charge of adulterating France’s tobacco with water. He was exonerated posthumously
HYPOGNUSIA - nothing ("There's nothing, son, under the gnu...")
HYPO G.E. USA - an injection needle made by the General Electric Company in the United States
HYPNOGEUSIA - You say your tastebuds fell asleep, eh? Could be a symptom of COVID-19 infection!
MEANING: noun: Addiction to bloodshed.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin sanguis (blood). Earliest documented use: 1664.
PANGUINOLENCY - addiction to flightless birds
SANGRINOLENCY - addiction to vocalizing musically, with happiness on your face
SAN QUINOLENCY - patron saint of poufy underthings that fluff up skirts
Meaning: A pretence of virtue.
HYPOCRACY - weak government
HYPOCHRISTY - let's not talk so much about Jesus
MEANING: noun: The state of being equal with one another, as in rank, power, value, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin co- (with) + aequus (level, equal). Earliest documented use: 1583.
C.O.QUALITY - Just how good is your Commanding Officer, anyway?
COQUALITY - the essence of Roosterness (even without the French wine)
COP QUALITY - a laudable goal for the Blue Lives Matter movement
MEANING: adjective: Announcing; declaring; pronouncing.
ETYMOLOGY:From Latin ex- (out) + nuntiare (to announce). Ultimately from the Indo-European root neu- (to shout), which also gave us announce, denounce, pronounce, renounce, and pronunciamento. Earliest documented use: 1693.
NUNCIATORY - serving as spokesperson or ambassador to a foreign country, as from the Pope
DENUNCIATORY - attempted shaming
ENUNCLATORY - removing my mother's brother from the Family Tree
MEANING: noun: A state of ostracism.
ETYMOLOGY: After Coventry, a city in central England. It’s unclear how Coventry developed this sense. One conjecture is that Royalist prisoners were sent there during the English Civil War. Earliest documented use: 1691. Also see stellenbosch.
COW ENTRY - Elsie's front door
COME'N'TRY - a carnival midway barker's spiel
COVEN CRY - witches sound the alarm
PRONUNCIATION: (ROH-muhn may-truhn)
MEANINGnoun: A woman having a dignified bearing.
ETYMOLOGY: From the ideal of a married woman in ancient Rome. From Latin matrona (a married woman), from mater (mother). Earliest documented use: 1596.
NOMAN MATRON - Penelope (wife of Odysseus, who called himself "Noman" when he struck the blow that blinded the Cyclops)
ROMAN MACRON - makes a Roman vowel long
ROMAN MAîTRON - chief of waiters in the Colosseum
PRONUNCIATION: (KAN-tuhr-ber-ee tayl)
MEANING:m. mnoun: A story that is long, tedious, or absurdly implausible.
ETYMOLOGY: After The Canterbury Tales c. 1400 by Geoffrey Chaucer. It’s a collection of 24 stories told in verse by a group of pilgrims as they travel from London to Canterbury. Earliest documented use: 1575.
CANTERBURY TALC - a soft stone that was avoided in building the cathedral
CANTER BURN TALE - the story behind why the horse pulled up lame after using the wrong gait
CANTOR BURY TALE - the lost twenty-fifth chapter of Chaucer's magnum opus, about the interment of the church's vocalist; later suppressed by ecclesiastical authorities
PRONUNCIATION: (TRO-juhn hors)
MEANING: noun: Something or someone placed in order to subvert from within.
ETYMOLOGY: In the legendary Trojan War, the Greeks left a large hollow wooden horse at the gates of the city of Troy. The Trojans took it inside. Greek soldiers hidden in the horse came out at night and opened the gates of the city, allowing the Greek army to enter and conquer the Trojans. Earliest documented use: 1574. In computing, a Trojan horse is a program that, while seemingly useful, steals passwords or does other damage to computers.
TROJAN HOARSE - King Priam has been shouting from the parapets much too much
TROJAN GORSE - a kind of prickly shrub found around Troy in the old days
TROJAN HOUSE - storage place for prophylactics
PRONUNCIATION: (KEN-tish kuh-zuhns)
MEANING: noun: Distant relatives.
ETYMOLOGY: After Kent, a county in England. Since most of the county is bounded by the sea and the river Thames, its citizens were not as mobile and intermarriages were common. Earliest documented use: 1796.
KENTISH COSINS - in another identity Superman was a trigonometry teacher
PENTISH COUSINS - very VERY distant relatives, like fifth cousins
KENNISH COUSINS - others in the Jeopardy champion's family had keen memories for all sorts of trivia
MEANING: verb intr.: To faint, collapse, explode, or flop down, as from excitement, frustration, surprise, exhaustion, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From Yiddish platsn (to burst), from German platzen (to burst). Earliest documented use: 1920.
PILOTZ - people who control sea- and air-craft
POT-Z - a game city kids play on the sidewalk, similar to Hop-Scotch
SLOT Z - where you insert Tab Y
PRONUNCIATION: (froom) [short oo, as in book]
MEANING: adjective: Religious; observant of religious laws.
ETYMOLOGY: From Yiddish frum, from Middle High German vrum (pious). Modern German fromm (pious). Earliest documented use: 1889.
FLUM - a purple stoned fruit, from which is brewed Slivovitz
FFUM - a very loud expletive, uttered when a Giant smells blood...
FRUG - what a dancing tadpole grows up to be
1. Disgrace or shame.
2. Someone or something that brings shame or disgrace.
ETYMOLOGY: From Yiddish shande (shame, disgrace), from German Schande (disgrace). Earliest documented use: 1961.
SHONDAY - Ah, the paradox of being inebriated on the Day of Worship
SH, FONDA - Don't make so much noise, Jane!
PHONDA - what Absence makes the heart grow
MEANING: noun: Prestige, social status, or pedigree.
ETYMOLOGY: From Yiddish yichus/yikhus (pedigree), from Hebrew yihus (pedigree). Earliest documented use: 1890.
YISHUS! - what my 2-year-old says about the yummy dinner
LICHUS - one singe sweet dessert morsel at the Chinese restaurant
YICHTS - luxury boats in the present tense
Meaning: Half a quaver; a sixteenth-note.
SESQUIQUAVER - a dotted quaver
SEMIQUOTER - someone who takes things out of context
SEMIQUITTER - I'll try again later
Meaning: Half a quaver; a sixteenth-note.
SESQUIQUAVER - a dotted quaver
SEMIQUOTER - someone who takes things out of context
SEMIQUITTER - I'll try again later
March 8, 2010? That's going back a ways!
MEANING: noun: Money.
ETYMOLOGY: From Yiddish gelt (money) and/or German, Dutch geld (money). The words gild, gilt, yield, and guild are cousins of this word. Earliest documented use: 1529.
G-BELT - something worn to combat gravitational strain
GALT - Who is he?
GEL-TV - very slow reruns of old cartoons, one frame at a time
MEANING: verb tr.: To devastate, such as by heavy bombing.
ETYMOLOGY: After Coventry, a city in central England, that was devastated in German bombing during WWII, Nov 14-15, 1940. The Germans coined the verb coventrieren (to coventrate) after the city to describe any heavy bombing, and the term was adopted in English as well. Earliest documented use: 1940. See also, blitzkrieg.
COVET RATE - what percent of viewers are jealous
COVEN TRACE - follow the peregrinations of groups of witches
COVE NITRATE - fertilizer (guano) from birds in a sheltered inlet
PRONUNCIATION: (ROH-muhn HOL-i-day)
MEANING: noun: An entertainment event where pleasure is derived from watching gore and barbarism.
ETYMOLOGY: From the gladiatorial contests held in ancient Rome. Earliest documented use: 1818. Also see, Roman matron.
ROXAN HOLIDAY - Cyrano takes his love for a day out
AROMA'N'HOLIDAY - vacation with incense
WOMAN HOLIDAY - Mom does whatever she wants and the family does all the planning and cooking and cleaning and child care
MEANING: verb tr./intr.: 1. To move at an easy pace.
2. To ride a horse at a canter.
noun: 1. An easy pace.
2. A three-beat gait of a horse.
ETYMOLOGY: After Canterbury, a city in England, the home of Thomas Becket’s shrine, toward which medieval pilgrims supposedly rode at an easy pace. Earliest documented use: 1706. Also see, Canterbury tale.
CANTEX - 1) a former spouse with a very negative attitude; 2) "Fire the cowboy!"
BANTER - inane jokes
LANTER - one who puts urine in beer
RANTER - one who complains with great length and intensity about urine in his beer
1. A person from Troy.
2. One who exhibits great stamina, energy, and hard work.
3. A merry fellow.
4. In computing, a piece of malware that appears harmless, but causes damage.
ETYMOLOGY: After Troy, an ancient city in modern-day Turkey. From the reputation of Trojans in defending their city. The computing sense is from Trojan horse. Earliest documented use: 1330.
PRO-JAN - In favor of the first month of the year
TYROJAN - Jan is a mere beginner
TOROJAN - older brother of Ferdinand
PRONUNCIATION: (KEN-tish fyr)
MEANING: noun: Prolonged cheering.
ETYMOLOGY: From the prolonged derisive cheering in opposition to meetings held in Kent, England, during 1828-29 regarding the Catholic Relief Bill which sought to remove discrimination against Catholics. Earliest documented use: 1834.
KENNISH FIRE - You should see Barbie's boyfriend's eyes when he gets jealous!
KENTISH IRE - sometimes in his secret identity Superman gets really angry
KEN DISH FIRE - Ken likes to cook food flambé
MEANING: noun: A method of assessing a newborn’s health. Also known as Apgar score.
ETYMOLOGY: After anesthesiologist Virginia Apgar (1909-1974) who devised it. Earliest documented use: 1959.
NOTES: This is a judging world and we get evaluated right from birth (Apgar) to death (how many people came to the funeral). In 1953, Dr. Virginia Apgar devised a quick way to assess the health of a newborn child. She assigned 0, 1, or 2 points for each of the five criteria: heart rate, respiration, muscle tone, skin color, and reflex response. The score is typically calculated at one minute and five minutes after birth.
Ten years after the debut of the Apgar score, Dr. L. Joseph Butterfield introduced an acronym as a mnemonic aid for the term: Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration. See backronym.
A.P. TAR - a journalist in the Navy
ZAP-GAR - an electric fish
A-P GEAR - transfers power and/or rotation in the front-to-back direction
MEANING: noun: A detective.
ETYMOLOGY: After Allan Pinkerton (1819-1884), a private detective, who started a detective agency in 1850. Earliest documented use: 1874. Pinkerton may also be the origin of the term fink.
PINSKER TON - a rather nebulous measure of weight first described in southern Belarus, near the Ukranian border.
PINKEARTON - sound as heard by folks with colorful aural organs
PIN KARTON - where the seamstress or tailor keeps the sharp-pointed temporary fasteners
MEANING: noun: In a card game, a weak hand, especially one in which no card is above a nine.
ETYMOLOGY: After Charles Anderson Worsley, 2nd Earl of Yarborough (1809-1897), who is said to have bet 1000 to 1 against the occurrence of such a hand. The actual odds are 1827 to 1. Earliest documented use: 1900.
YARD BOROUGH - a tiny British political division
YAR, BIRO - UGH - Right, it's one of those tiny ball point pens. Shameful, innit?
YARBOROUGH - Mr NASCAR. Nuff said.
MEANING: noun: Something misleading, such as a word or phrase used euphemistically or ambiguously for propaganda purposes.
ETYMOLOGY: After George Orwell (1903-1950), whose novel 1984 depicted a futuristic totalitarian state employing misleading language for propaganda and control. Earliest documented use: 1970. Also see newspeak and Orwellian.
OK, WELLISM - a debating technique of deflecting and changing the subject, sometimes called "but what about?"
OR CELLISM - encouraging a plea bargain by threatening with jail time
OR WELTISM - encouraging a plea bargain by threatening a beating;
compare OR CELLISM, above
MEANING: noun: A complimentary ticket or pass. Also known as an Annie Oakley.
ETYMOLOGY: After the sharpshooter Annie Oakley (1860-1926) who was renowned for her skill, from association of the punched ticket with one of her bullet-riddled targets. Earliest documented use: c. 1910.
OAKEY - quirky. [note - Oak (genus Quercus): any of about 450 species of ornamental and timber trees and shrubs constituting the genus Quercus]
ORAKLEY - Delphic
OARLEY - an airport in Paris
MEANING: noun: Something used for the healing of wounds.
adjective: Useful in healing of wounds.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin vulnus (wound) + -ary (relating to). Earliest documented use: 1599.
ULNERARY - pertaining to a forearm-bone
VULNECRACY - government by the wounded
FULNERARY - pertaining to our Administrator
PRONUNCIATION: (sop-uh-RIF-ik, suh-puh-)
MEANING: adjective: 1. Inducing sleep.
2. Sleepy or drowsy.
3. Dull or monotonous.
noun: Something that induces sleep.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin sopor (a deep sleep). Ultimately from the Indo-European root swep- (to sleep), which also gave us insomnia, hypnosis, soporose, somniloquy (talking while asleep), and somnambulate (to walk in sleep). Earliest documented use: 1690.
SOUPORIFIC - Campbell's latest offering - have a bowl before bedtime and sleep like a log!
SORORIFIC - inducing female children
ISOPORIFIC - having microscopic openings of uniform shape
MEANING: noun: An absurd, pretentious, or hypocritical performance.
ETYMOLOGY: From Middle French momerie (masquerade), from Old French mommer (to mum or to pantomime). Earliest documented use: 1465.
MUMMERRY - enlivening the place with flowers
MUMMERCY - sparing the plants when the flowers finish blooming
HUMMERY - attempted intimidation by driving a powerful, armored vehicle
MEANING: noun: Unwillingness to compromise, especially from an extreme position.
ETYMOLOGY: Via Spanish/French, from Latin in- (not) + transigere (to settle). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ag- (to drive, draw), which also gave us act, agent, agitate, litigate, synagogue, and ambassador. Earliest documented use: 1882.
IN-TRANSIT GENCE - men between destinations
SINTRANSIGENCE - refusal to stop violating commandments
INFRANSIGENCE - membres de l'Académie Francaise
MEANING: noun: Timidity or shyness.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin diffidere (to mistrust), from dis- (not) + fidere (to trust). Ultimately from the Indo-European root bheidh- (to trust), which also gave us abide, abode, fiancé, affidavit, confide, confident, defiance, fidelity, defy, infidel, and diffident. Earliest documented use: 1425
DIFFIDANCE - uneasy at the school Prom
DIFF I.D., ONCE - You know, this isn't my original Social Security number
DIFFIDENCE - embarrassed about the appearance of one's teeth
MEANING: noun: 1. A place for storing firewood.
2. A place for administering punishment.
3. A place for intensive practice, especially music practice.
verb tr., intr.: 1. To practice diligently, especially on a musical instrument.
2. To punish or reprimand.
3. To coach a witness before a trial.
ETYMOLOGY: From the practice of using a woodshed for punishing a child, for intensive music practice, etc. From wood, from Old English wudu + shed, a variant of shade, from Old English sceadu. Earliest documented use, noun: 1764, verb: 1893.
WORDSHED - where you send lazy words, to work on their meanings
WOODSHOD - dressed in sabots
WOOLSHED - store your clothing raw-materials here
BALK or BAULK
MEANING: noun: 1. A check or hindrance.
2. A defeat or disappointment.
3. A beam or rafter.
4. A ridge; an unplowed strip of land between furrows.
verb intr.: To stop, hesitate, or refuse to proceed.
verb tr.: To thwart or hinder.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old English balca (ridge, bank). Earliest documented use, noun: 885, verb: 1393.
BABK - a yeastcake made with cinnamon and raisins
B.A. HULK - Bruce Banner gets his college degree
BALI K - comes after Bali J and Bali Hai
MEANING: noun: A decorative chain or string, of flowers, leaves, ribbons, etc., hanging between two points.
verb tr.: To make or hang festoons; to decorate.
ETYMOLOGY: From French feston, from Italian festone, from festa (festival), from Latin festa, plural of festum (festival). Earliest documented use, noun: 1676, verb: 1789.
FESTOOL - a seat of iron
WESTOON - animated show for kids, with Hopalong Cassidy and the Road Runner
FEMTO-ON - one 10^15th part of the care owed by the Japanese higher-stationed to those under them
PRONUNCIATION: (BI-vuh-ak, BIV-wak, BIV-oo-ak)
MEANING: noun: A temporary encampment, in the open air, typically without tents or cover.
verb intr.: To take shelter temporarily for the night.
ETYMOLOGY: From French bivouac, from Swiss German beiwacht (supplementary night watch), from bei- (beside) + Wacht (watch). Earliest documented use, noun: 1706, verb: 1809.
B. IOU A/C - Item 2 on a my list of unfinished business: I owe you an air conditioner
BIJOU AC - an electric jewel that runs on Alternating Current
BIRO UAC - the official ballpoint pen of the Unamerican Activities Committee
MEANING: verb: To understand or know.
noun: Know-how, practical knowledge, or shrewdness.
adjective: Shrewd or knowledgeable, especially in practical matters.
ETYMOLOGY: Via pidgin and/or creole language(s), from Portuguese and/or Spanish sabe (do you know?), from Latin sapere (to be wise). Ultimately from the Indo-European sep- (to taste or perceive), which also gave us sage, savant, savor, sapid, sapient, resipiscent, insipid, and sipid. Earliest documented use, verb: 1686, noun: 1785, adjective: 1826.
LAVVY - smelling like a washroom
SAVY (rhymes with "Navy") - inclined to rescue things
SAVOY - theatrical, especially with light opera
SALVY - unguental
PRONUNCIATION: (ROS-truhm, RO-struhm)
1. A platform, stage, dais, etc., for public speaking.
2. A beaklike projection on a warship, used for ramming another ship.
3. A snout, beak, or bill of an animal.
ETYMOLOGY: In ancient Rome, a speaking platform was decorated with the beaks of captured ships. Hence the use of the term for a speaking platform. From Latin rostrum (snout, bill, beak), from rodere (to gnaw). Earliest documented use: 1542.
FROST RUM - Baccardi on the rocks
RE-STRUM - if Sam (in Rick's Café) played the guitar instead of the piano
ROOT RUM - like Sarsparilla or root beer, only much more potent
1. A hard shell on the back of animals such as turtles, crabs, etc.
2. An attitude developed as a protective measure against something.
ETYMOLOGY: From French carapace (shell), from Spanish carapacho (shell). Earliest documented use: 1835.
CARPACE - how fast am I driving
CAT-APACE - a cheetah
CORA PACE - How are the Red Sox doing this year?
MEANING: noun: 1. Hairs or feathers on the neck or back of some animals that stand up when the animal is agitated.
2. Temper; anger.
3. A comb for dressing fiber.
verb tr.: To comb flax, hemp, or other fibers with a hackle.
ETYMOLOGY: Either a variant of heckle, from Middle English hechelen (to comb flax) or from Old English hacele (coat, cloak). Earliest documented use: 900.
AHA!CKLE - the sound you make when you finally realize why that joke is funny, after all
HACKLET - a child-sized cab
HICKLE - a singultus, barely contained
MEANING: noun: 1. The highest point.
2. An architectural ornament capping a tower, buttress, etc.
verb tr.: 1. To reach the peak of achievement, development, etc.
2. To form a pinnacle.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old French, from Latin pinnaculum, diminutive of pinna (wing, feather). Ultimately from the Indo-European root pet- (to rush or fly), which also gave us feather, petition, compete, perpetual, pterodactyl, helicopter, appetence, asymptomatic, auricle, empennage, impetuous, pencel, peripeteia, petulant, propitious, pinnate, and lepidopterology (study of butterflies and moths). Earliest documented use: 1330.
PINNOCLE - card game involving bidding and trick-taking, using a deck missing all cards from 2 to 8
PINNACHE - 1. pain in the outer ear; 2. flair, style, elan; 3. a leafy green vegetable reputed to be full of iron (it isn't) and Vitamin K (it is) and much admired by one pipe-smoking Sailor Man with very skinny upper arms
PIÑTACLE - a mystical symbol in the shape of a pineapple (alternatively, in the shape of a fifteenth-century seafaring craft)
MEANING: verb intr.: To move quickly, especially in retreat or in fleeing.
ETYMOLOGY: From reference to animals such as cows, rabbits, and deer that raise their tails when fleeing. Earliest documented use: 1908. A synonym is skedaddle.
NIGHT-AIL - obstructive sleep-apnea, for example
HIGHT GAIL - Who was the rich villain in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead ?
HIGH TAMIL - the Official Language of Serendip
MEANING: noun: An activity, approach, state of mind, etc., emphasizing intuition and insights, instead of fixation on goals.
adjective: Calm, peaceful, unruffled.
ETYMOLOGY: After Zen, a school of Mahayana Buddhism. From Japanese zen (meditation), from Chinese chan (meditation), from Pali jhanam (jhanam), from Sanskrit dhyana (meditation). Earliest documented use: 1727. Also see satori.
ZZ-EN - (German) infinitive verb: to sleep or snore
pZEN - the negative logarithm of serenity
ZIN - Wine not?
PRONUNCIATION: (BUHT-uhr fing-guhrd)
MEANING: adjective: Clumsy or careless, especially frequently dropping things.
ETYMOLOGY: From butter, from Old English butere, from Latin butyrum, from Greek boutyron, from bous (cow) + tyros (cheese) + finger, from Old English. Earliest documented use: 1615.
BUTLERFINGERED - having blackened thumbs (from polishing the family silver so much)
BUTTER FINE RED - 1. churned wine; 2. a purebred crimson goat
BUTTERFIN GERE - a dolphin who's still Looking for Mr Goodbar
1. A small finch, native to the Canary Islands, having greenish to yellow color, and known for its melodious song.
2. A bright yellow color.
3. A singer.
4. An informer.
ETYMOLOGY: From French canari (canary), from Spanish canario (canary; of the Canary Islands), from Latin canis (dog). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kwon- (dog), which also gave us canine, chenille (from French chenille: caterpillar, literally, little dog), kennel, canary, hound, dachshund, corgi, cynic, cynosure, canaille, canicular, and cynophobia. Earliest documented use: 1568.
NOTES: The Canary Islands, a group of islands off the coast of Africa, are named after an animal, but it’s not canaries. It’s dogs. The island’s name is, literally, the Island of the Dogs, from Latin Canariae insulae...
CABNARY - needing a ride when it's raining in the city
CANERY - walking-stick factory
CANART - Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup pictures
1. A confident, stylish manner; swagger.
2. A tuft of feathers on a headdress, such as a helmet, hat, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From French panache, from Italian pennacchio, from Latin pinnaculum (small wing), diminutive of pinna (wing, feather). Ultimately from the Indo-European root pet- (to rush or fly), which also gave us feather, petition, compete, perpetual, pterodactyl, and helicopter. Earliest documented use: 1584.
PA NICHE - a corner where Pop fits in perfectly
PIÑA CHE - pineapple served à la Cuban revolutionary
PA. NOCHE - night in Philadelphia's "Little Havana" neighborhood
MEANING: noun: Otherness: the state or quality of being other or different.
ETYMOLOGY: From French altérité, from Latin alteritas (otherness), from alter (other), from Greek heteros (other). Earliest documented use: 1500.
ALGERITY - a fortuitous occurrence that ultimately leads to the success of an honest, charitable, kind, hard-working young man
ALTERIFY - scare the daylights out of everybody
ASTERITY - when money is so tight you can buy only a few simple fall flowers
1. Serious; unmitigated.
2. Plain; undisguised.
ETYMOLOGY: From un- (not) + shirt, from Old English scyrte. Earliest documented use: 1932.
UNS HURTED - we were in pain in Berlin
UNSHIRRED - I actually prefer my eggs unbaked like this
UNSHORTED - the safe way to use electrical appliances
UNSHIRED - exiled from the land of the Hobbits
MEANING: adjective: Conventionally attractive and suave.
ETYMOLOGY: After the detachable Arrow Collars sold by Cluett, Peabody & Co. in the early 1900s. The collars were shown on a supposedly idealized man, known as the Arrow Collar Man, in ads drawn by the illustrator J.C. Leyendecker. Earliest documented use: 1915.
ARROW-CO. LIAR - advertising agent for the Arrow Shirt Company in the early 1900s
NARROW-COLLAR - dated, out of style
ARROW COLLARD - a leafy green vegetable with lanceolate foliage
1. Conservative, unimaginative, conventional, staid, repressed, etc.
2. Relating to a collar that can be fastened to the garment.
3. Relating to a garment having such a collar or having buttons from the collar to the waist.
ETYMOLOGY: From the association of a button-down shirt with people having such an outlook. Earliest documented use: 1883. The term also appears in the form buttoned-down.
BUST ON DOWN - what's covered by a strapless gown
BUTT ON DAWN - hit with your head the moment the sun rises
BUT TEN-DOWN - I've solved everything from one-down to nine-down...
1. Unprofitable; futile; unreasonable; irrelevant.
2. Without sleeves.
ETYMOLOGY: From sleeve, from Old English sliefe + less, from Old English laes (less). Earliest documented use: 950. Also see shirtsleeve.
NOTES: What does a sleeve have to do with profit? In former times, a lady would give her detachable sleeve (also known as a maunch/manche, from French) to a knight as a symbol of love and he would wear it as he went around in his adventures. A knight without a sleeve was, well, sleeveless. The Encyclopedia Britannica (1880) mentions: “Bayard took a lady’s sleeve and proclaimed it, with a valuable ruby, as a prize to be contended for.”
SLEEVELETS - tiny openings in the fingers of gloves, to display the fingertips
SLEEVELASS - an itinerant seamstress who rides around repairing worn elbow holes for the Bourgeoisie (true gentry wouldn't stoop to having worn clothing repaired)
SLEEVELES - a nonsense word meaning a mild illness - see A.A.Milne: "Christopher Robin had Weevils and Sleeveles; they bundled him up in his bed..." etc. ;-)
MEANING: noun: 1. The part of a shirt reaching below the waist, especially in the back.
2. A brief item added at the end of a newspaper article.
3. Something small or unimportant.
adjective: 1. Very young or immature.
2. Very small or trivial.
3. Distantly related.
ETYMOLOGY: From shirt, from Old English scyrte (shirt) + tail, from Old English toegl (tail). Earliest documented use: 1659. Also see coattail.
SHIFT-TAIL - the seventh, eighth, and even ninth and tenth hours of your scheduled work time
SHIRT TAMIL - garment for the upper body and arms, of a distinctive fabric made only in India and Sri Lanka
SHORT-TAIL - to follow and observe someone for just fifteen minutes
1. A rule book.
ETYMOLOGY: After Edmond Hoyle (1672?-1769), British writer on games. Earliest documented use: 1906. The word is typically used in the phrase according to Hoyle, meaning strictly following rules and regulations.
H. PYLE - 1) Gomer's younger brother; 2)familiar form of name of a bacterium associated with gastric ulcers
TOYLE - one-quarter of a witch's spell, along with two bubbles and some trouble
HO, YALE - Greetings, all you Eli
(alternatively, HOY ALE - what I'm drinking today in Tijuana)
MEANING: noun: An escape artist.
verb intr.: To escape.
ETYMOLOGY: After Harry Houdini (1874-1926), a magician and escape artist. Earliest documented use: 1923.
NOTES: Houdini was born as Ehrich Weiss, but he admired the French magician Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin so changed his name. His nickname Ehri became Harry. Watch a Houdini straitjacket escape in Houston, 1923: (video, 3 min.). How did he do his magic tricks and escapes? Read all about it here. In his later years, Houdini devoted his life to debunking psychics, mediums, and other fraudsters. He worked with the Scientific American magazine to expose them.
HOUNDINI - dog-shaped pasta
HOUDING - present participle of to houd
FOUDINI - Magician/Portrait featured in the 1950s kids' TV program featurng puppets, 5 PM weekdays in the New York City area, Pinhead and Foudini. His magic word was not "Abracadabra" but "LY-CO-PO-DIUM !" accompanied, unsurprisingly, by a flash of light and a puff of smoke.
MEANING: adjective: Cheap, showy, and gaudy.
ETYMOLOGY: Short for tawdry lace, a contraction of St Audrey lace. The story goes that Æthelthryth (c. 636-679 CE), also known as Etheldreda and Audrey, loved fine silk laces in her youth. She died of a throat tumor which she considered a punishment for her fondness of necklaces. She was a queen, but later became a nun, and eventually a saint. Cheap laces sold in St Audrey’s Fair in Ely, England, came to be known as St Audrey lace, and eventually shrank to tawdry lace. Earliest documented use: 1612. Also see, trumpery.
PAWDRY - what you do for your dog after the rain
TAPDRY - get the good last drop out of the keg
T AWRY - T
1. Standardization that focuses on efficiency, predictability, control, etc., at the expense of individuality or creativity.
2. The spread of the influence of American culture.
ETYMOLOGY: After McDonald’s, a fast-food chain started by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald in 1940. Earliest documented use: 1975. Also see McJob.
MACDONALD IZ AT INN - the old farmer has reached the motel
MACDONALD IZ A TOON - Surely you've seen an animated Ronald MacD
MACDONALD IZ A LION - that's why he knows so much about hamburgers
1. A person who holds a high office or has great influence.
2. A pompous, self-important person.
3. A person holding many offices or positions of power.
ETYMOLOGY: After Pooh-Bah, a government official in Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1885 operetta The Mikado. Pooh-Bah holds all the high offices of the state (except Lord High Executioner), including relating to complaints about himself. He is also known as the Lord High Everything Else. Earliest documented use: 1886.
POOH-BAR - where Winnie goes to have a cup or two of mead
POOCH-BAH - cat-lover's dismissal
POSH-BAH - high-priced Boston drinking club
PRONUNCIATION: (KHOOT-spuh, HOOT-)
MEANING: noun: Shameless boldness; brazen nerve; gall.
ETYMOLOGY: From Yiddish khutspe, from Late Hebrew huspa. Earliest documented use: 1853.
CHUTE, PA - Son, before I dive out of this airplane, did I forget anything?
CHUT SPA - a health resort where as a sideline they grow chutney for distribution and sale
CHUTZ PATH - a wilderness trail blazed by explorer Igor Chutz
MEANING: noun: Absurdly chivalrous, idealistic, or impractical ideas or behavior.
ETYMOLOGY: After Don Quixote, hero of the eponymous novel by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616). Earliest documented use: 1703. Also see quixotic and quixote.
QUIXOTORY - futile
QUIXOT-RAY - an automated light-energy weapon designed to knock over windmills with a lance
EQUI-XO-TRY - striving for the same number of kisses as hugs
1. Having a coarsely ruddy complexion.
ETYMOLOGY: From English dialect blowze (wench). Earliest documented use: around 1770.
LOWZY - the worst possible letter grade
BROWZY - just looking around, to see what's here
B'LOW ZY - submerged in the ocean
MEANING: noun: An arrangement of five objects with one at each corner and one at the center.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin quincunx (five twelfths), from quinque (five) + uncia (twelfth part). Earliest documented use: 1606.
NOTES: In ancient Rome, a quincunx was a coin equivalent to five twelfths of the coin known as an “as” or “libra”. The coin’s value was sometimes represented by five dots, four in corners and one in the middle. The number five on a die is represented by five dots in a quincunx.
QUID-CUNX - the twelfth part of one Pound Sterling, i.e. one shilling eightpence
QUIDNUNX - old Roman gossips
QUID C? UNIX? - Don't you think it would have been more efficient to program it in UNIX?
MEANING: noun: 1. Someone or something extraordinarily successful.
2. Someone or something flashy, impressive, technologically innovative, etc.
3. A firework that makes whizzing sounds and loud bangs.
adjective: 1. Highly successful or talented.
2. Flashy, impressive, fast-paced, loud, etc.
NOTES: The term has its origin in the onomatopoeic representation of the sound made by a firearm or firework. It was popularized in WWI as high-speed shells were called whizbangs. It was also the name given to a rocket launcher used by the US Army during WWII.
ETYMOLOGY. Of imitative origin. Earliest documented use: 1881.
PHIZBANG - how an exploding cigar does in your face
WHIPBANG - the crack of Indiana Jones' favorite weapon
WHIZBANE - a prodigy's downfall
PRONUNCIATION: (fort KNAHKS)
1. An inordinate amount of wealth.
2. A place extraordinarily secure and thus impossible to break into.
ETYMOLOGY: After Fort Knox, nickname of the United States Bullion Depository, a vault that houses most of the US government’s gold, in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
FORT K? NO. - Are we going to the gold storage place? Negative.
(syn. FORT K? NOT!; ant. FORT K: NOW!)
FOR TKO X - Was that prize for his ninth knockout? No.
FORT K'NEX - part of the "Cowboys and Indians" set of a children's construction toy
1. A mark of quality, genuineness, or excellence.
2. A distinguishing feature or characteristic.
ETYMOLOGY: After Goldsmiths’ Hall in London, where articles of gold and silver were appraised and stamped. Earliest documented use: 1721.
HAIL MARK - Caesar turned down the crown three times, and eventually an exasperated Mark Anthony accepted it
HULLMARK - lines panted on the hull of a boat to indicate how deep she's riding in the water
HALLMASK - something you wear in school to protect against airborne disease; formerly, something you wore in school so the teachers and the monitors wouldn't know who you are
1. One with the ability to easily turn anything profitable.
2. One who is extremely wealthy.
ETYMOLOGY: After the legendary King Midas who was given the power that anything he touched turned into gold. Earliest documented use: 1584. Also see: Midas touch and Midas-eared.
IDA'S - belonging to Eddie Cantor's wife
MILD AS... - an Ivory Snow challenge - "Complete This Slogan:"
MIDIS - skirt style, of a length halfway between Minis and Maxis
PRONUNCIATION: (GOL-den par-uh-shoot)
MEANING: noun: An agreement to pay generous compensation to a company executive if dismissed.
ETYMOLOGY: From the idea of a parachute softening the blow of an ejection from a high office and the color golden alluding to the large payment received on dismissal. Earliest documented use: 1981.
GOODEN PARACHUTE - lets pitcher Dwight land gently
GOLDEN, PA. RANCH: UTE - what Native American tribe runs that Dude Resort/Casino in Golden, Pennsylvania?
GOLDEN PARA SHUTE - the author of For Two Cents Plain declared he would vote for the author of On the Beach
1. A shiny yellow mineral of iron disulfide. Also known as iron pyrites or fool’s gold.
2. Something that appears valuable but is worthless.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin pyrites (flint), from Greek pyrites lithos (stone of fire, flint), from its shiny surface and its use for starting fire. Earliest documented use: 1475.
𝑝𝑝 RITE - a very hush-hush solemn formalized procedure
PAY RITE - withholding taxes and other regular deductions
PYX RITE - a procedure whereby coins at the mint are measured against a standard of know weight and fineness
PRONUNCIATION: (HUHM-tee DUHMP-tee)
1. A short, rotund person.
2. Something or someone broken beyond repair.
ETYMOLOGY: After Humpty Dumpty, a character in a nursery rhyme, who is irreparably broken after a fall. He’s typically shown as an anthropomorphic egg. Earliest documented use: 1785.
LUMPTY BUMPTY - what coarse oatmeal you serve !
HUMPITY DUMPITY - so sorry your Significant Other kicked you out
HAMPTY DAMPTY - hurricane completely flooded Gatsby's estate
1. A clump of something.
2. A mound.
3. A low seat, stool, cushion, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: Diminutive of tuft, from French touffe (tuft). Earliest documented use: 1553.
TUFEET - you stand on your own when you're independent
TURFET - a diminutive piece of sod
RUFFET - what you do when opponents lead a suit you're void in
PRONUNCIATION: (MUHTH-uhr HUHB-uhrd)
MEANING: noun: A loose shapeless dress for a woman.
ETYMOLOGY: After Mother Hubbard, a character in the nursery rhyme “Old Mother Hubbard”. Earliest documented use: 1877.
OTHER HUBBARD - brother of the sci-fi author who created Dianetics on a bar bet (some say)
MO, THE HUB BARD - Moses was also known as the Shakespeare of Boston
MOTHER, BUBBA R'D - Ma, he just pronounced "railroad" correctly for the first time ever!
MEANING: noun: A tea-kettle.
ETYMOLOGY: After Suki, a girl in the nursery rhyme “Polly Put the Kettle On”. Earliest documented use: 1803.
SKEY - a good way to get around on fresh powdered snow
SAKEY - Biden's Press Secretary
OSUKEY - how you get into Ohio State University (if it's locked)
PRONUNCIATION: (SIM-puhl SY-muhn)
MEANING: noun: A simpleton.
ETYMOLOGY: After Simple Simon, a foolish boy in a nursery rhyme. Earliest documented use: 1673.
SIMPLE TIMON - a foolish misanthropic Athenian, according to Shakespeare
WIMPLE SIMON - Simon, an itinerant peddler, travels to convents to sell clothing to the Nuns
SIMPLEST, MON ! - easiest thing for a Caribbean native to say
BOLSHIE or BOLSHY
MEANING: adjective: 1. Rebellious; uncooperative; combative.
2. Politically radical.
noun: 1. Someone who is rebellious, uncooperative, combative, etc.
2. A politically radical person.
ETYMOLOGY: Abbreviation of Bolshevik (a person with radical views), from Russian Bolshevik, from bolshe (greater), referring to the faction of the Russian Social Democratic party that seized power in the October Revolution of 1917. Ultimately from the Indo-European root bel- (strong), which also gave us debility and Bolshoi Theatre (literally, Great Theater). Earliest documented use: 1918.
BOLSHINE - clandestinely-made Dutch liqueur
BALSHY - very self-effacing at formal dances
BONSHY - a miniature drunken plant, seen mostly in Japan
MEANING: adjective: Lacking enthusiasm; indifferent; lazy.
ETYMOLOGY: From lackadaisy, alteration of lack a day, contraction of alack the day (an expression of regret, grief, or disapproval). Earliest documented use: 1768.
LACKADAISI-MAL - heartsick because you can't tell whether she loves you or she loves you not
BLACKADAISICAL - synonym of "black-eyed Susan"
LACK-A-DAIS IS AL - Al can't speak, 'cause he doesn't have a podium
LARKADAISICAL - affectionate name for Oklahoma! when all the world is still and you wake up in the meadow
MEANING: noun: 1. A swift, sudden military attack, especially aerial bombardment.
2. An intense campaign, for example, an ad blitz.
verb tr.: To attack, destroy, conquer, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: Short for blitzkrieg, from German Blitzkrieg, from Blitz (lightning) + Krieg (war). Earliest documented use: 1939. Also see coventrate.
BLOTZ - Steve Dallas' favorite beer
BRITZ - 1) inhabitants of London; 2) inhabitants of a seaside resort in Pyrenees France known for its beaches...and its waves
B-LISTZ - second tier, one step below a-listz
MEANING: interjection: Used to express surprise or indignation.
ETYMOLOGY: Contraction of God’s wounds! Earliest documented use: 1593.
OZOUNDS - the noise of tri-molecular oxygen being made from bimolecular O2
ZOFUNDS - money to support animal parks
ZOU NODS - the former premier of China sneaks in a nap
MEANING: noun: Exemption from local laws: the privilege of living in a foreign country, but subject only to the home country’s jurisdiction.
ETYMOLOGY: A contraction of extraterritoriality, from Latin extra- (outside) + territorium (land around a town), from terra (land). Earliest documented use: 1925.
EXTRACITY - a satellite urban community, like Yonkers to New York
EXTRALITH - a stone on the outside, like an everted geode (see also EXTRNALITY)
NEXTRALITY - linear succession
EUTRALITY - a proper but uncommmitted relationship, being neither positive nor negative
1. The study of muscles.
2. The muscular anatomy of a person or an animal.
ETYMOLOGY: From myo-/my- (muscle), from Greek mys (mouse, muscle). Ultimately from the Indo-European root mus- (mouse, muscle), which also gave us mussel (a respelling of muscle), mustelid (any member of the weasel family), and mysticete (baleen whale), from Greek ho mus to ketos (literally: the mouse, the whale so called). Earliest documented use: c. 1649.
MYCOLOGY - the study of strong mushrooms
MOOLOGY - the study of money
MYOB-LOGY - the study of privacy
MAYOLOGY - A Compendium the History of Medical Care in Rochester, Minnesota
PRONUNCIATION: (MAUS puh-tay-to)
MEANING: noun: Someone who lives a sedentary life, spending large amounts of leisure time playing computer games, surfing the net, streaming videos, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: Formed on the pattern of couch potato. Mouse refers to the electronic mouse typically used with a computer. Earliest documented use: 1993.
NO-USE POTATO - the futile attempt of one who can't cook at all, not even boil a potato
MOOSE POTATO - Bullwinkle after he learned to use a computer
MOUSE POETATO - Mickey Longfellow. And he didn't know it, either
PRONUNCIATION: (RAT rays)
MEANING: noun: A repetitive competitive activity, such as the modern working life in which one constantly struggles to attain wealth, status, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From rat, from Old English raet (rat) + race, from Old Norse ras (race). Earliest documented use: 1937.
RAFT RACE - Huck and Jim vie to see who can go down the river faster
RAP TRACE - Authorities are looking into what else the perp has been convicted of
RAT RAGE - why the mad rodent shot the other driver
1. Like a mouse in appearance, color, smell, etc.
2. Timid or shy.
3. Quiet or stealthy.
4. Dull or drab.
5. Infested with mice.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old English mus (mouse). Earliest documented use: 1812.
MOURY - If when push comes to shove / you decide you're in love / that's a MOURY
(apologies to Dean Marin)
MOUSLEY - a mix of rolled oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, often eaten with milk for breakfast
MOUSEL - a river through northeastern France, Luxembourg, and western Germany; also, a white wine from that region
MEANING: noun: The use of the Internet to signal support for a cause.
ETYMOLOGY: A blend of click, as in a mouse click + activism. Earliest documented use: 2006.
NOTES: Clicktivism can take many forms: signing an online petition, forwarding a message, sharing a posting, or changing the color or banner on one’s website or social media in support of a cause, and so on. Clicktivism is sometimes derided as slacktivism (slack + activism). It’s seen as putting in minimal effort and getting a sense of doing something and feeling good about it, instead of getting deeply involved with a cause. While the criticism can be justified, clicktivism is better than doing nothing and, at least, it raises awareness.
CLINKTIVISM - law enforcement relying heavily on incarceration
CLACKTIVISM - the other half of the Cartalktivism radio show featuring the Tappet Brothers
CLUCKTIVISM - saying "tut-tut" disapprovingly about everything
1. An informer.
2. In cricket, a bowler, especially a slow bowler.
3. A float for a fishing line.
4. A large marble.
ETYMOLOGY: For 1, 2: From dob (to inform, to put down, to throw).
For 3: From Dutch dobber (float, cork).
For 4: From dob, a variant of dab (lump).
Earliest documented use: 1836.
DOUBER - what to do when you need to get somewhere in NYC and you don't have a car
DOBER - familiar form of an allegedly vicious breed of dog
ADOBBER - someone who erects Pueblo-style homes (or Hopi or Zuni, if you like)
MEANING: noun: 1. Rumor.
4. An abnormal sound heard in internal organs in the body during auscultation.
verb tr.: 1. To report.
2. To repeat.
3. To spread a rumor.
ETYMOLOGY: From Anglo-Norman bruire (to make a noise), from Latin brugere, a blending of rugire (to roar) + bragire (to bray). Earliest documented use: 1400.
BERUIT - captail of Lebanon
B. QUIT - second option for dealing with an obnoxious boss
BRUSIT - what you'll do if you squeeze the fruit too hard
BLUIT - gave up a walkoff home run in the ninth and lost the game
1. A small sculpture carved in relief on a background of another color.
2. A short description, literary sketch, etc., that effectively presents the subject.
3. A very brief appearance by a well-known actor or celebrity in a film, typically in a non-speaking role.
4. A brief appearance or a minor role.
ETYMOLOGY: From Italian cammeo, from Latin cammaeus. Earliest documented use: 1561.
CAMEOW - the utterance (udderance?) of a bovine kitty
CHAMEO - a soft cloth used for polishing
CAFÉO - French coffee, without the milk
CAMOO - French existentialist novelist, author of [i]The Stronger[/b]
1. A small container for pills.
2. A small fortified enclosure, used for firing weapons, observing, etc.
3. A small brimless hat with a flat top and straight sides.
4. Something small or ineffectual.
ETYMOLOGY: From pill, from Latin pilula (little ball), from pila (ball) + box, from Old English, from Latin buxis, from pyxis (boxwood box), from Greek pyxis, from pyxos (box tree). Earliest documented use: 1702.
GILLBOX - what fish get their oxygen delivered in
POLLBOX - where you deposit your ballot
SPILLBOX - a large concrete casting downstream from a dam to minimize erosion from the water runoff
MEANING: noun: 1. An unfortunate situation.
2. A pledge.
3. A fold, wrinkle, braid, etc. Also called plait or pleat.
verb tr.: 1. To become engaged to marry.
2. To promise.
3. To fold, wrinkle, braid, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: For noun/verb 1, 2: From Old English pliht (danger).
For noun/verb 3: From Anglo-Norman plit (fold, wrinkle, condition), from Latin plicare (to fold).
Earliest documented use: 450.
D-LIGHT - what else they do, for most
PLIGHTY - going from one peril to the next
P-SIGHT - possessed mostly by older men: tracking the strength of your urinary stream
PRONUNCIATION: (pay-puhr muh-SHAY)
MEANING: noun: A mixture of pulped paper, glue, etc., used in making sculptures, boxes, ornaments, etc.
adjective: 1. Made of papier-mache.
2. Fragile; temporary; false; illusory.
ETYMOLOGY: From French papier-mâché (chewed paper). Earliest documented use: 1753.
RAPIER-MACHÉ - my sword got mashed between a rock and a hard place
PAPIER-MACH - lightning-fast, at least on paper
POPIER-MACHÉ - in a disagreement between Il Papa and the Bishops' Council, the Pope wins
MEANING: verb intr.: To make a moaning, sighing, whistling, murmuring, or rustling sound.
noun: 1. Such a sound.
2. A rumor.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old English swogan (to rustle, whistle, etc.). Earliest documented use: before 1066.
SCOUGH - 1. belittle, sneer at; 2. to scrape or mar, as shoes
O SO UGH - extremely distasteful
SPOUGH - a pastiche or satire for comedic purposes
ETYMOLOGY: From wool, from Old English wull + gathering, from Old English gaderian. Earliest documented use: 1553.
NOTES: Woolgathering may be aimless wandering of the mind these days, but once it was serious work. It was pulling tufts of wool caught on bushes or fences or left on the ground by sheep. Besides today’s word, the English language has many other ovine-related terms, such as sheep’s eyes and sheeple.
WOO-LATHERING - soft-soaping your sweetie-pie so she'll agree to marry you
WOOF GATHERING - bunching together the cross-threads in woven cloth, to pinch the fabric
WOOL-BATHE RING - a community activity, akin to a quilting bee, to cleanse the sheep-shearings
1. Having scabs.
2. Mean or contemptible.
ETYMOLOGY: From scab, from Old Norse skabb (scab, itch). Earliest documented use: 1526.
NOTES: The word scab started out as a skin disease, evolved into a word for a crust over a wound, and then figuratively, into a moral disease. Eventually, it was applied to a mean person, especially a strike-breaker. Two other terms for such a person are fink and blackleg.
SCARBY - worker in an itinerant carnival; a carny or roustabout (after Scarborough Fair)
SCA-BABY - a teen-ager preoccupied with Jamaican music
SCA BOY - a young man who's very active in the Society for Creative Anachronisms
1. A ship that carries the fleet commander and flies the commander’s flag.
2. The best or the most important of a group of things.
ETYMOLOGY: From flag, of obscure origin + ship, from Old English scip. Earliest documented use: 1672.
FLAGSHIP - a vessel that carries pennants, banners, gonfalons, and such
FLOGSHIP - a boat propelled by malfeasants shackled to oars (see also FLAYSHIP)
FLATS HIP - shoes without heels are all the rage these days
MEANING: adjective: Relating to political corruption.
ETYMOLOGY: After Tammany Hall in New York City, former home of the New York County Democratic Party, which was known for corruption. Earliest documented use: 1872.
NOTES: Tamanend or Tammany was a wise and peaceful Delaware Indian chief who became known as the “patron saint” of America. Many social clubs and societies were named after him. Tammany Hall in New York was one such place that evolved into a political machine notorious for its corruption. It was active from 1789-1967.
TAMPANY - kettle drums (past tense)
TARMANY - like Br'er Fox's trap for Br'er Rabbit, after he grew up
YAMMANY - a whole lot of sweet potatoes
PRONUNCIATION: (grahn gee-NYOL) [the first syllable is nasal]
MEANING: noun: An event, entertainment, etc., of a sensational or horrific nature.
adjective: Gruesome, grotesque, or horrifying.
ETYMOLOGY: From Le Grand Guignol (literally, The Great Puppet), a theater in Paris that specialized in such entertainment. Earliest documented use: 1905.
GARAND GUIGNOL - puppet with a semi-automatic rifle
RAND GUIGNOL - a think-tank for French theater
GLAND GUIGNOL - puppet shows with horminal themes
MEANING: noun: A prison.
ETYMOLOGY: After Bastille, a fortress in Paris, that was used to hold prisoners. From Old French bastille (fortress), alteration of bastide, from Old Provençal bastir (to build). Earliest documented use: 1400.
NOTES: Bastille (French pronunciation: bas-TEE-yuh) was built in the 14th century and stormed on Jul 14, 1789, marking the beginning of the revolution. The anniversary (Bastille Day) is celebrated as a national holiday in France.
BAST ISLE - spot of land in the Nile, populated by cats
BESTELLE - favorite girl friend
BAS-TILLER - the below-deck rod for turning the rudder
PRONUNCIATION: (HAW-thorn i-FEKT)
MEANING: noun: An improvement in workers’ performance attributed to the special attention they received when singled out for a study.
ETYMOLOGY: After Hawthorne Works, a factory complex of the Western Electric Company, where this effect was observed. The complex was named after the original name of the town where it was located. Earliest documented use: 1958.
NOTES: In the 1920s, researchers studying a group of workers at the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company in Cicero, Illinois, observed something peculiar. They found that the productivity increased irrespective of the change in the direction of a variable. For example, the performance improved under brighter lights, but also when the lighting level was reduced. The researchers attributed this phenomenon to the workers’ perception that they were being given some attention. The very realization of being singled out for study motivated them to perform better.
NAWT-HORNE EFFECT - honking in traffic accomplishes nothing
HAW! TH'ORNE EFFECT - when the French river overflow its banks it's simply laughable
HAST HORNE EFFECT - being able to go "beep-beep" makes a driver more aggressive (but see NAWT-HORNE EFFECT)
MEANING: adjective: Yearly.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin quot (how many) + annus (year). Earliest documented use: 1878. A related word is quotidian (happening every day; commonplace).
USAGE: “The Dallas Cowboys defense has been a point of contention with fans over the past few years.”
Daniel Ruppert; Dallas Cowboys: Quality vs Quantity, the Quotennial Question; FanSided; Feb 14, 2017.
DUOTENNIAL - twentyful
QUOTERNIAL - attributed to William R. Hamilton the system of imaginary numbers i, j, k with the properties ij=k, jk=i, ki=j, and i^2 = j^2 = k^2 = -1
QUITENNIAL - my yearly attempt to stop
MEANING: noun: A dog lover.
adjective: Fond of dogs.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek philo- (loving) + kyon (dog). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kwon- (dog), which is also the source of canine, chenille (from French chenille: caterpillar, literally, little dog), kennel, canary, hound, dachshund, corgi, cynosure, and cynic. Earliest documented use: 1830.
PHILOCYGNIC - noun: a lover of baby swans
PHYLOCYNIC - skeptical about classification systems
PHILO CYNIC - a fictional detective who believed that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than rather than for honorable or unselfish reasons; written by S S van Dyne and popular in the 1920s and 30s.
MEANING: verb tr.: To render unnecessary; to remove, avoid, or prevent.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin obviare (to act contrary), from ob- (against) + via (way). Ultimately from the Indo-European root wegh- (to go or to transport), which also gave us pervious, ochlophobia (a fear of crowds), and ochlocracy (mob rule). Earliest documented use: 1567.
OBVIGATE - a blatant, even conspicuous political scandal
OBI-ANTE - Ben Kenobe threw in a chip to start the next pot
OB VIA TEN - the obstetrician drove through on I-10
MEANING: verb tr.: To tease or deceive, especially by flattery.
noun: An instance of this.
ETYMOLOGY: From Spanish mamar gallo (to suckle a rooster).
NOTES: The word has nothing to do with a mama or a guy. It is from Caribbean English, especially from Trinidad. It has its origins in cock-fighting, apparently referring to a rooster who is gently sucking at his opponent instead of pecking him with force.
GAMAGUY - the male of the third class in Orwell's Brave New World, after the alphas and the betas
MAMAGUM - Bloody Mary occasionally chews something besides betel nuts
MATAGUY - What I did in a bar. He said he's a bullfighter, Escami-something.
MEANING: noun: The study of documents, especially historical documents, in an effort to authenticate, date, interpret, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin diploma (a letter of recommendation or an official document), from Greek diploma (a folded paper). Ultimately from the Indo-European root dwo- (two) that also gave us dual, double, doubt, diploma (literally, folded in two), twin, between, redoubtable, dubiety, diplopia, and didymous. Earliest documented use: 1808.
Variations on a Theme:
DIPLOMAT ICE - must be broken before the negotiations can begin
DUPLOMATICS - statesmanship by liars, who speak with with forked tongue
BIPLOMATICS - wordless statesmanship (ask Marcel Marceau how it's done)
DIPLOMATTICS - meetings are held upstairs in the garret
DIPLOMATINS - and they start first thing in the morning
DOPLOMATICS - the ambassador is an idiot
1. Compassion, pity, or mercy.
2. Something to provide support to a standing person.
3. A place where rules are relaxed.
4. A dagger used to deliver the death stroke to a seriously wounded person.
ETYMOLOGY: From Old French misericorde, from Latin misericordia (pity or mercy), from misereri (to pity) + cor (heart). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kerd- (heart), which also gave us cardiac, cordial, courage, concord, cordate, accord, discord, record, and recreant. Earliest documented use: 1230.
MISER IS ORD - the administration at O'Hare Airport won't spend a penny on improvements
MISS R.I. - C OR D? - Is it the third or the fourth contestant who lives in Newport?
MISER I CARD - proof that I'm a first-class cheapskate
MEANING: noun: A composition that makes use of an existing piece of music with different lyrics.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin contrafacere (to counterfeit), from contra- (against) + facere (to make or do). Earliest documented use: 1940.
CONTRACACTUM - this spiny desert plant has it in for me...
CONTRAFACETUM - the side of a gemstone diametrically opposite to the one under consideration
COINTRAFACTUM - a bootleg orange-flavored after-dinner liqueur
MEANING: noun: The lack of will or self-control resulting in one acting against one’s better judgment.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek akretes (powerless), from a- (without) + kratos (power, strength). Earliest documented use: 1806. The adjective form is akratic.
ASK RASIA - Rasia? Who's "Rasia?
A.K.A. "RASIA" - nickname for Rasella
O.K., RASIA - I'm satisfied with your answer
1. A water-drinker.
2. A teetotaler.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin aqua (water) + bibere (to drink). Ultimately from the Indo-European root poi- (to drink), which also gave us potion, poison, potable, beverage, bibulous, bibacious, and Sanskrit paatram (pot). Earliest documented use: 1731.
AQUAVIB - whale or dolphin undersea communications
AQUABIC - a European ballpoint pen that writes under water
AQUA-BNB - tourist lodgings in Atlantis
1. An idealized form.
2. A phantom.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek eidos (form, idea), ultimately from the Indo-European root weid- (to see), which also gave us wise, view, supervise, wit, eidos, and eidetic. Earliest recorded use: 1828.
IDOL ON - when you worship your car so much you can't bear to get inside it, even to turn off the ignition, so that it just stands there with the motor running
EID COLON - the little-known Arabic Festival of the Large Intestine, sometimes loosely (but erroneously) translated as Evacuation Day
EPIDOLON - located just above the dolon
MEANING: noun: A simple or gullible person.
ETYMOLOGY: From very, from Old French verai (true), from Latin verus (true) + green (immature, naive, etc.). Earliest documented use: 1954.
VERIGREN - plural of verig
VERYGREEN - bright light of 3800 Ångstrom units wavelength
VEROGREEN - putting surface in a Florida golf course
1. Vulgar or tawdry.
2. Unconventional; carefree; rakish.L
ETYMOLOGY: From raff (rubbish), also the source of riffraff. Earliest documented use: 1795.
RAWFISH - what sushi is made from
LAFFISH - humorous, sort of
CRAFFISH - small crustacean that crawls on the bottom of a pond
PRONUNCIATION: (KLAY-mant, KLAM-uhnt)
2. Demanding attention; urgent.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin clamare (to cry out). Earliest documented use: 1639.
CLAY ANT - a pre-Columbian scarab in the form of a six-legged insect
UCLA, MA, NT - the Bruins in Los Angeles have a New Technology, Mother
CALAMANT - squidlike
MEANING: adjective: Dirty or untidy.
ETYMOLOGY: From draggle (to trail on the ground or in mud, etc.) + tail. Earliest documented use: 1654.
DRAGGLE-FAILED - cross-dressing event didn't work out very well...
DRANGLE-TAILED - lots of anguish and self-searching at the end of the œuvre
DRAGLET AILED - young Saphira was ill (see Eragon)
MEANING: noun: A cheat or impostor.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin factor (maker, doer, perpetrator), from facere (to make or to do). Earliest documented use: 1340.
FATTOUR - visit to the lard factory
FASTOUR - driver's view of the Indianapolis Speedway
FAITHOUR - the 23rd Psalm, condensed to a single word
MEANING: noun: A walk taken for one’s health.
adj.: 1. Relating to the constitution, a set of principles governing a state, organization, etc.
2. Relating to someone’s physical or mental condition.
3. Relating to the fundamental makeup of something or someone; essential.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin con- (together) + statuere (to set up). Earliest documented use: 1682.
CONSTITUTION ALB - the white garment worn when handling an old precious document
CONSTITUITIONAL - the cost of higher education does not rise
C'MONSTITUTIONAL - Let's go for a walk together!
2. Having the same measure.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin com- (with) + past participle of mensurare (to measure). Earliest documented use: 1641.
COMPENSURATE - measure your salary
COM MEN SURE ATE - the radio men had a feast
COMMENSTRATE - oh, say, a 6-7-8-9-10 hand
MEANING: noun: A discussion employed in investigating the truth of a thesis.
adjective: Relating to such a discussion.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek dia- (between) + legein (to speak). Earliest documented use: 1382.
DIALECTRIC - a constant insulating property
DUALECTIC - voting for two candidates
DIATECTIC - a mixture consisting of two fluids, of uniform composition despite transforming from gas to liquid state or back
MEANING: noun: 1. A woodwind instrument, an early form of bassoon, also known as a dulcian.
2. An animal with a tail docked off.
3. Anything abridged or cut short.
adj.: 1. Having a docked tail.
2. Abridged or cut short.
ETYMOLOGY: From French court (short), from Latin curtus (shortened). Earliest documented use: 1509.
CURTAG - a microchip with the owner's contact information
CURBAL - what makes a baseball pitcher hard to hit
CARTAL - proposed name for a British moving company, ultimately rejected in favor of simply Pickfords ("We Carry Everything!")
MEANING: noun: A coward or wretch.
ETYMOLOGY: From erroneous reading of Middle English nithing, from Old English nithing, from Old Norse nidhingr, from nidh (scorn). Earliest documented use: 1596.
NIDDERINE - from the city or culture of Nidder
NADDERING - babbling, prattling, speaking blandly and inanely
NIDGERING - poking or otherwise rousing from a state of inactivity or inattention
1. A sturdy shoe typically with ornamental perforations and a wing tip.
2. A heavy shoe of untanned leather.
3. A strong accent, especially Irish or Scottish when speaking English.
ETYMOLOGY: From Irish and Scottish Gaelic brog (shoe). The accent sense of the word apparently arose from this kind of shoes worn by the speakers. Earliest documented use: 1587.
GROGUE - a rum drink for upper-class sailors
BROGLUE - what holds Masons together
DROGUE - a small parachute for initiating the deployment sequence or for high-altitude or fast landings
PRONUNCIATION: (for verb: ree-VAMP, for noun: REE-vamp)
MEANING: verb tr.: To renovate, refurnish, revise, etc.
noun: An instance of renovation, refurnishing, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From re- (again) + vamp (the front upper part of a shoe), from Old French avanpié, from avant (fore) + pié (foot), from Latin pes (foot). Earliest documented use: 1803.
VASP - a Teutonic hornet
NAMP - National Association of Military Police; a retired Viet Nam veteran is its head
SAM P. - noted 17th Century Politician and Diarist, as he was known by his familiars
PRONUNCIATION: (KLE-vuhr klogs)
MEANING: noun: Someone perceived to be intelligent or knowledgeable in an annoying way.
ETYMOLOGY: The term boots has been used for a fellow or a person since the early 1600s. From there we got the term clever boots and then clever clogs. Earliest documented use: 1866.
CLEVER CLODS - dull and uninteresting oafs, but shrewd
CLEAVER CLOGS - looks like the Beav plugged up the toilet again
CLOVER CLOGS - wooden shoes to wear while looking for four-leafed lucky charms
noun: 1. A string used to tie a shoe: shoelace.
2. A small amount.
adj.: Involving little.
ETYMOLOGY: From itinerant vendors’ selling of trinkets, threads, shoestrings, and other low-value items. Earliest documented use: 1616.
SHOESTRING - catching a ball just above your sneakers, a moment before it hits the ground
SHOO-STRING - a cord to flail around to ward off flies
SHOE-STING - when a bee gets you right on top of your big toe when you're wearing sandals
Here is the version that I intended to submit before I saw your post. You will see that it bears some remarkable resemblances to your version!
SHOESTING – lump of grit lodged in one's footwear
SHOOSTRING – piece of cord that one whirls around to repel insects
SHOOTRING – arrangement in which the firing squad completely surrounds the condemned person
MEANING: noun: 1. An old, worn-out shoe.
2. Something useless or worn out.
3. A useless person; a fool.
verb tr.: To subject to disgrace or contempt.
ETYMOLOGY: Of Scottish origin, perhaps from bauch (inferior or substandard). Earliest documented use: 1488.
BOUCHLÉ - a heavy textile containing nubby, looped yarn, often in two different shades...known for its interesting visual texture and super-soft comfort. [I recall a tongue-twister about blue boots made of it]
BACHLE - in the style of Ol' J.S.
BANUCHLE - a card game played by Gary Larsen's sheep
MEANING: adjective: Surly, gloomy, or stern.
ETYMOLOGY: Probably a blend of grim + glum. Earliest documented use: 1640.
G I RUM - Elixir of Terpin Hydrate (80 proof, it is)
BRUM - shortened form of Birmingham (England); compare "eleëmosynary" --> "alms"
GNUM - a Wildebeest on lidocaine
MEANING: verb tr.
intr.: 1. To blend or merge.
2. To declare or make known. For example, in some card games, to declare or display a card or a combination of cards so as to score points.
noun: 1. A blend or merger.
2. A card or a combination of cards declared or laid down to score points.
ETYMOLOGY: For verb, noun 1: Probably a blend of melt + weld. Earliest documented use: 1919.
For verb, noun 2: From German melden (to announce). Earliest documented use: c. 450.
ME, LTD - the ultimate Personal Corporation
AM ELD - I've been around for a very long time...
MULD - a good way to drink wine on a cool evening
MEANING: verb tr., intr.: To spend lavishly or wastefully.
verb intr.: To make an ostentatious display.
noun: An extravagant or ostentatious display or expenditure.
ETYMOLOGY: Perhaps a blend of splash + surge, or maybe imitative. Earliest documented use: 1828.
SPLUGE - when the sled breaks through the ice and goes into the water
'SPLUMGE - What's that behind the peacock?
SPLURGEN - 1. the source of that expensive caviar you ordered for Brunch;
2. spending the money anyway
MEANING: noun: 1. A color between gray and beige.
2. A fabric or yarn that has not undergone bleaching, dyeing, or other finishing processes.
adj.: 1. Of a gray-beige color.
2. Unbleached, undyed, or unfinished.
ETYMOLOGY: For noun, adj. 1: A blend of gray + beige. Earliest documented use: 1927.
For noun, adj. 2: From French grège (raw, unfinished) influenced by gray/beige, from Italian greggio, probably from Latin gregius (plain, ordinary). Earliest documented use: 1835.
GREIG, E - Norwegian composer, known for his [i]Peer Gynt Siute[i] among many other works
GREY G.E. - Genera Electric is extraordinarily drab
GREIDE - your mark in school. (I think you flunked Spelling.)
MEANING: noun: An uproar or commotion.
ETYMOLOGY: Perhaps a blend of rumpus + ruction. Earliest documented use: 1802.
RUMUPTION - projectile vomiting after too many Daiquiris
RAMPTION - getting on or off the Information Highway
RUMPTOON - an animated show in which all the characters make asses of themselves
MEANING: noun: 1. A scoundrel.
2. A foul-mouthed person.
verb tr.: To disparage with abusive language.
verb intr.: To speak abusively.
ETYMOLOGY: From a blackguard, a person who did menial work in the kitchen of a noble household. Such a person may be responsible for pots and pans. Hence black + guard. Typically such persons were treated derisively. Earliest documented use: 1535. Another word originating in the kitchen to describe a person is scullion.
BLOCKGUARD - Security Officer in charge of a whole lot of prisoners
FLACKGUARD - security officer in name only, who got his job under the spoils system
LACKGUARD - unsuspecting and unprotected
MEANING: noun: A steep bowl-shaped mountain basin, carved by glaciers. Also known as a cirque.
ETYMOLOGY: From Welsh cwm (valley). Earliest documented use: 1853.
CWT - a unit of weight - a short (US) hundredweight ("centiweight," or cwt) is 100 pounds (45.36 kg); a long (Imperial) cwt is 8 stone (112 lbs)
OWT - a number for counting backwards, just before ENO.
CWO - an officer who didn't get a commission
MEANING: noun: Food, especially food fit for human consumption.
verb tr.: To provide with food.
verb intr.: To obtain food or to eat.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin victualia (provisions), from victus (nourishment), past participle of vivere (to live). Earliest documented use: 1303.
VICTRAL - pertaining to phonographic sound reproduction
NICTUAL - blinking
VINTUAL - winemaking
MEANING: noun: The upper edge of the side of a ship or a boat.
NOTES: The word is often used in the idiom “to the gunwales” meaning to be full, almost overflowing.
ETYMOLOGY: From gun + wale (a plank along the side of a ship), from its use as a support for guns in earlier times. Earliest documented use: 1466.
GUNSALE - the NRA's dream come true
GUNSWALE - sloping grass to facilitate drainage from an emplacement
GUNWALK - ready to draw at any moment
1. A fairy.
2. The race of fairies.
3. A mound or hill where fairies are believed to live.
ETYMOLOGY: From Irish sidh (fairy mound). Earliest documented use: 1724. Now you can see where banshee came from. A banshee is the anglicized spelling of bean sidhe (literally, woman of a fairyland).
SITHE - orthographically-challenged cutting tool for harvesting grassy crops
SIEHE - look in Berlin
SINDHE - peccavīt
MEANING: noun: One who is known for integrity, courteousness, and nobility.
ETYMOLOGY: After Sir Galahad, the noblest of the Knights of the Round Table, in the British legend of King Arthur. Earliest documented use: 1854.
GAL AHAB - re-write of Moby Dick with a female Captain
GALA MAD - can't resist a good party
GAL AHEAD - said the teenager, standing on the corner with his buddies, watching
MEANING: noun: A guidebook.
ETYMOLOGY: After the German publisher Karl Baedeker (1801-1859) who founded a company that published travel guidebooks. Earliest documented use: 1863.
- a vessel with nothing visible above water (like many submarines)BALD ECKER
- a hairless German riverBAD ECKER
- another name for Bad Hartzburg
in Lower Saxony
1. A wind blowing from the west.
2. A gentle breeze.
3. A soft and light garment, fabric, or yarn.
4. Anything having a soft, fine quality.
ETYMOLOGY: After Zephyrus, the god of the west wind in Greek mythology. Earliest documented use: before 1150.
ZE PYR - what got built near Giz
ZEPPYR - a closure universally used, but not exclusively since the invention of Velcro®
ZETHYR - a stringed instrument similar to an Autoharp without the pre-set chords
1. Looking in two different directions.
2. Having two contrasting aspects.
3. Hypocritical or deceitful.
ETYMOLOGY: After Janus, the Roman god of doors, gates, and transitions. Earliest documented use: 1682. The month of January is named after Janus.
IAN US-FACED - a James Bond novel specifically edited for publication in America
JANUS-PACED - two steps forward, two steps back, repeat ad libitum
ANUS-FACED - [censored]
MEANING: noun: Luxury, glamor, opulence, etc.
verb tr.: 1. To make a show of luxury or opulence.
2. To behave haughtily toward someone; to snub.
ETYMOLOGY: After César Ritz (1850-1918), a Swiss hotelier. Earliest documented use: 1900.
NOTES: César Ritz was known for his opulent hotels and was called “the hotelier of kings and the king of hoteliers”. The word ritz is often used in the phrase “to put on the ritz” meaning to “make an ostentatious show”.
RITV - television station sited in Providence, Rhode Island
FRITZ - with on the, malfunctioning
RITEZ - what the orthographically-challenged author sez he duz for a living
PRONUNCIATION: (FAY/FEE-liks KOOL/KUHL-pah)
plural felix culpae (KOOL/KUHL-pae/pee)
MEANING: noun: An error or disaster that has fortunate consequences.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin felix culpa (happy fault). Earliest documented use: 1913. A related word is serendipity.
FELIX CUPPA - Garfield was not the first cat who admired coffee
HELIX CULPA - the blame goes around and around
FELIX CUB, PA - What should we call the lucky little baby lion, Ma?
MEANING: noun: Unintelligible utterances occurring during religious excitation, schizophrenia, etc. Also known as speaking in tongues.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek glosso- (tongue, language) + -lalia (chatter, babbling), from lalein (to babble). Earliest documented use: 1879. A related term is coprolalia.
FLOSSOLALIA - the unceasing cry of the dental hygienist
GROSSOLALIA - speaking in hundred-forty-fours
GLOSSOLILIA - luminous flowers
2. Skillfulness in the use of the left hand.
3. Awkwardness or clumsiness.
4. Evilness, unluckiness, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin sinister (left, left hand, unlucky). Earliest documented use: 1623. Some related words are ambisinistrous/ambisinister (clumsy with both hands) and dexterous.
SIN IS VERITY - Evil is Truth
MINISTERITY - the office of Church leadership
SINISTER? I TRY - it isn't easy being scary and evil and threatening...
MEANING: adjective: Occurring in the same geographical area.
ETYMOLOGY: From sym-, a form of syn- (together) + patra (homeland), from pater (father). Earliest documented use: 1904. The opposite is allopatric.
SYMMATRIC - Your parents are mirror images of each other!
GYM, PATRIC - Captain Picard needs to buff up a bit
SYMPATH, INC. - Sensitives For Hire
MEANING: verb intr.: To work feebly.
noun: A feeble action or movement.
ETYMOLOGY: A blend of spud (a dagger or digging implement) + puddle. Earliest documented use: 1630.
SPURDLE - to use your spurs to encourage your horse to jump over a hurdle
SPUDULE - a diminutive potato
SPUNDLE - a small sharp object which in the past was used to prick your finger to enable you to sleep
ETYMOLOGY: Coined by Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) in his novel Through the Looking-Glass. Earliest documented use: 1871.
NOTES: The word appears in the poem “Jabberwocky” in the novel Through the Looking-Glass.:
He took his vorpal sword in hand,
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
CORPAL - friend of my heart
V'ORÉAL - one-tenth of a French personal care and cosmetics company
V. OPAL - the fifth kind of jewel, after diamond, ruby, emerald, and sapphire
MEANING: noun: The linking or agreement of different disciplines when forming a theory or coming to a conclusion.
ETYMOLOGY: Coined by the philosopher William Whewell (1794-1866). From Latin con- (with) + salire (to leap). Earliest documented use: 1840. He also coined the words scientist and physicist.
CONSALIENCE - the relevance of the opposition
CONSOLIENCE - sympathy, understanding, reassurance, and encouragement
PONSILIENCE - the resonance and power of the soprano
MEANING: noun: Language laden with jargon from psychotherapy or psychiatry, used without concern for accuracy.
ETYMOLOGY: Coined by journalist Richard Dean Rosen (b. 1949). From Greek psycho- (mind) + babble (drivel, blather). Earliest documented use: 1975.
PSYCHOBUBBLE - Ward 8 is COVID-free...and completely isolated from other people
PSYCHRO-BABBLE - to natter on, with but colorful language
PSYCHOBAB BLEU - a kind of cheese made in Southern Africa and in Madagascar, with a broad trunk and many edible parts, it can last for centuries
MEANING: noun: The study of the deformation and flow of matter.
ETYMOLOGY: Coined by Eugene C. Bingham (1878-1945), professor of chemistry, inspired by an aphorism of the philosopher Simplicius of Cilicia: “Panta rhei” (Everything flows). From Greek rheo- (flow) + -logy (study). Earliest documented use: 1929.
GHEOLOGY - the study of clarified butter
RHETOLOGY - the study of the effect of the wind on the US Civl War
SHEOLOGY - the Feminine Mystique, explained
MEANING: noun: One who eats locally grown food.
ETYMOLOGY: Coined by Jessica Prentice (b. 1968), chef and author. From local, from Latin locus (place) + -vore (eating), from vorare (to devour). Earliest documented use: 2005.
VOCAVORE - someone who's always eating his words
LOCOVORE - one who eats only crazy foods
LOCAMORE - a trysting place
LO CAVORT - see: children at play
1. Someone or something that is subservient to another.
2. A personal maid.
ETYMOLOGY: From hand + maiden, referring to a young woman who was ready at hand to serve her lady. Earliest documented use: 1350.
BANDMAIDEN - Drum Majorette
HANS' MAIDEN - the young man with the Silver Skates has a girl friend
HAND MAXI DEN - absolutely the best place to get a manicure
MEANING: noun: A good-looking person.
ETYMOLOGY: From snout (nose, mouth, and jaw) + fair (attractive). Earliest documented use: 1530.
SNOUTFAIL - can't seem to locate those truffles anywhere
'SNOT FAIR - says the frustrated toddler
SNOUT FAR - the measure of Pinocchio's untruthiness
PRONUNCIATION: (STIK-ee fing-guhrd)
MEANING: adjective: Given to stealing.
ETYMOLOGY: From stick (to fasten or attach), from Old English stician (to pierce) + finger, from Old English. Earliest documented use: 1855.
NOTES: Lime is another word for something sticky or slimy. Birdlime is used to catch birds. From lime we got the term lime-fingered, alluding to someone whose fingers easily adhere to stuff belonging to others, in other words, someone prone to stealing. Eventually the terms sticky-handed and sticky-fingered entered the language. Sometimes the metaphors and reality collide, as in these headlines:
Quebec Police Seek Sticky-Fingered Thieves with $30m of Maple Syrup (The Guardian)
Sticky-Fingered Thieves Made Off with $200 in Honey (The Huntsville Times)
Let’s hope someone fingered the thieves.
STOCKY-FINGERED - having short, fat fingers
STICK-FINGERED - drawn by a four-year-old
STICK-FINE RED - take a good Cabernet and beat it with a stake until it froths.
MEANING: adjective: Utterly surprised; flabbergasted.
ETYMOLOGY: From gob (mouth), probably from Irish and/or Scottish Gaelic gob (beak, mouth) + smack (to strike with the palm), probably imitative. Earliest documented use: 1935.
GOBS-MOCKED - derided by thousands
GODSMACKED - struck by a bolt of lightning
G-E-B SMACKED - absolutely blown away by Douglas Hofstadter's tour-de-force book
2. Tough, aggressive, or ruthless.
3. Having hands made rough by labor: hardhanded.
From hard + fisted, from Old English fyst (fist). Earliest documented use: 1612.
HARD-MISTED - so cold the pea-soup fog is frozen
HARD-FIRSTED - stuck with a task that gets easier with practice
HARD-FISHED - to much of the cod has been caught
MEANING: noun: A literary style which focuses on description of objects, not on interpretation, plot, characterization, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From French, from chose (thing), from Latin causa (case, thing). The idea is associated with the writer and filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet. Earliest documented use: 1960s.
ECHOS IS ME - when I repeat myself, I'm redundant, I say the same things over and over again
CHORISME - I live to sing !
CHO-SI SMEE - Captain Hook's First Mate is married to a Korean woman
MEANING: noun: A symbol (¶) used to indicate paragraph breaks.
ETYMOLOGY: Apparently an alteration of the word paragraph, with r changing into l and remodeled along the more familiar words pill and crow. Earliest documented use: 1440.
PILO-ROW - shaving one's head so that all the remaining hairs are in a single line (see "Mohawk haircut")
PILGROW - what happens after you plant a pil in fertile soil
NIL-CROW - what a truly modest person has to eat ever
PAREMIOGRAPHY or PAROEMIOGRAPHY
1. The writing or collecting of proverbs.
2. A collection of proverbs.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin paroemia (proverb), from Greek paroimia (proverb) + -graphy (writing). Earliest documented use: 1818.
SPAREMIOGRAPHY - images of extra mios
PARE-GIOGRAPHY or - alongside regular giography
PAROLE MIOGRAPHY - Let Miography out of jail !
1. A piece of writing or speech in an inflated or wildly enthusiastic manner.
2. An impassioned Greek choral song, originally in honor of the god Dionysus or Bacchus.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin dithyrambus, from Greek dithyrambos. Earliest documented use: 1603.
DITCH YRAMB - get away from Yramb
DITZY RAM B. - sometimes my guru acts exceedingly strange
EDIT: HYRAM B - not "Hyram A"
1. A sign (- or ÷) used in ancient manuscripts to indicate a spurious or doubtful word or passage.
2. A sign (†) used to indicate reference marks. Also known as obelisk or dagger.
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin obelus, from Greek obelos (spit). Earliest documented use: c. 450.
NOTES: In typography, an asterisk is used to indicate a footnote as is an obelus aka obelisk. In Asterix comics, the character Obelix is the best friend of the hero Asterix.
OBILUS - just send us the charges
OBOELUS - a diminutive double-reeded woodwind
NOBEL US - Well? We're waiting for the prize!
PRONUNCIATION: (DUHV-koht or DUHV-kot)
1. A structure with holes for housing domestic pigeons.
2. A settled group, especially one of a quiet, conservative nature.
ETYMOLOGY: From dove, from Old English dufe + cote (shelter, coop), from Old English cote. Earliest documented use: 1425. A synonym is columbarium.
MOVECOTE - Git yer consarned chickencoop outa here!
DOVE-NOTE - These billets-doux are for the birds.
DOVE NOTE - Having trouble finding that tritone, Signor?
1. Any of various birds of prey.
2. A greedy person, especially one who preys on others.
ETYMOLOGY: Of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old English putta (hawk). Earliest documented use: 1175.
PUTROCK - what one does on the gravestone of a respected forebear
PUTT ICK - My golf game stinks today; I can't hole anything
PET TOCK - but be careful you don't get Lome disease
PRONUNCIATION: (RAY-vuhn mes-uhn-juhr)
MEANING: noun: A messenger who does not arrive or return in time.
ETYMOLOGY: In the Bible, Noah sends a raven to go scout the scene, but the bird never returns to the ark. Earliest documented use: 1400. Also known as a corbie messenger.
CRAVEN MESSENGER - when the courier deserts rather than face danger...
RIVEN MESSENGER - ...and with good reason, perhaps; this one's been drawn and quartered
RAMEN MESSENGER - announces when the noodles are ready
MEANING: noun: 1. A hole or recess for a pigeon to nest or rest.
2. One of a series of small compartments for filing papers, etc.
3. A stereotypical category, not reflecting the complexities.
verb tr.: 1. To place in, or as if in, a pigeonhole.
2. To lay aside for future consideration.
3. To stereotype, to put into a preconceived, rigid category.
ETYMOLOGY: From pigeon, from Old French pijon (a young bird), from Latin pipio, from pipere/pipare (to chirp) + Old English hol. Earliest documented use: 1577.
BIG EON HOLE - a wormhole in space that lasts a very long time
PIGEON HOPE - faith that someday we'll find a passenger pigeon hiding deep in the mountains
PIG-PEON HOLE - where the medieval swineherd raises his stock
PRONUNCIATION: (WAR hawk)
MEANING: noun: One who advocates war, military intervention, or other aggressive measures.
ETYMOLOGY: After hawk, a bird of prey + war, from Old English (werre) + hawk, from Old English heafoc. Earliest documented use: 1792.
NOTES: A war hawk (or, simply, hawk) advocates for war, a dove (or, peace dove) for peace. Then there’s the species chicken hawk, which clamors for war only to send others to fight and do the dirty work while staying safely behind. Most war hawks are simply chicken hawks.
The term war hawk was especially applied to members of the 12th US Congress (1811-1813) who advocated for war with Britain. Among other motives for the war was the annexation of Canada. They got their war, now known as the War of 1812. The British burned the White House and the Capitol, among other federal buildings. The war ended in 1815. Some 25,000 died. It was a draw.
OAR HAWK - an advocate of returning to slave-powered ships
PAR HAWK - Improve your golf score by ten strokes or your money back!
WAR HACK - a lingering cough in those lucky enough to survive a wartime gas attack
MEANING: adjective: Very rich.
ETYMOLOGY: After Montgomery Brewster, the title character of the 1902 novel Brewster’s Millions by George Barr McCutcheon. Earliest documented use: 2001.
NOTES: In the novel Brewster’s Millions, Montgomery Brewster inherits $1 million when his grandfather dies. An uncle who hated this grandfather promises Brewster $7 million if he could spend that one million from the grandfather within a year. There are certain conditions, of course...
BREW STEREO - the flavor of this beverage has a special depth
BREWS TIERED - a layered mixture of beers and ales of contrasting colors
BREWSTER, ED - interim president (as of 2021) of Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, WA
MEANING: noun: A vacuum cleaner.
verb tr.: 1. To clean, especially with a vacuum cleaner.
2. To consume or acquire quickly, eagerly, or in large amounts.
ETYMOLOGY: After the industrialist William Henry Hoover (1849-1932). Earliest documented use: 1934.
HOPOVER - what you do when you come to a small puddle in the sidewalk
HOOKER - a water-pipe used by a Bostonian to smoke marijuaner
HO! OVERT! - what a voluble detective says upon seeing a flagrant violation
PRONUNCIATION: (KU-kee mon-stuhr)
MEANING: noun: Someone or something that is insatiably hungry or greedy.
ETYMOLOGY: After Cookie Monster, a puppet character in the children’s television show Sesame Street. Earliest documented use: 1971.
COOKIE, MON! (STERN) - stage instructions to a Rasta parrot on how to demand a cracker
LOOKIE MONSTER - how to explain to a child about a Basilisk or Medusa
COOTIE MONSTER - the scourge of pre-adolescent males
MEANING: noun: A meddlesome person who spoils a plan by interference.
ETYMOLOGY: After Marplot, the titular character in the 1709 play The Busy Body by Susannah Centlivre (1669-1723). Marplot means well and tries to help only to get in the way of others and foul things up. Earliest documented use: 1709.
FARPLOT - by stereotype, the North Forty
OMARPLOT - the Rubáiyát Conspiracy
MERPLOT - factions in the French Navy are up to something
MEANING: adjective: Blindly or unreasonably optimistic.
noun: One who is optimistic regardless of the circumstances.
ETYMOLOGY: After Dr. Pangloss, a philosopher and tutor in Voltaire’s 1759 satire Candide. Pangloss believes that, in spite of what happens -- shipwreck, earthquake, hanging, flogging, and more -- “All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.” The name is coined from Greek panglossia (talkativeness). Earliest documented use: 1831. The word pangloss is used in the same manner.
MANGLOSSIAN - after gender-reassignment surgery
PAN-GLOSS-MAN - the superhero who shines cooking utensils
ANGLO'S SIAN - "Jane" (from the Welsh)
1. A small fragment of bread.
2. One in a series of markers placed as a navigational aid.
3. One of several hints or clues leading to a person, place, etc.
ETYMOLOGY: From bread, from Old English bread + crumb, from Old English cruma. Earliest documented use: 1519.
NOTES: In the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, their parents drop the two siblings off in the forest because they are not able to feed them (if only there had been a strong social safety net). The smart kids drop breadcrumbs along the way so they can trace their steps back and find their way home.
In computing, website design, etc., breadcrumbs help users as a navigation aid and tell them where they are in a program, website, etc.
BREA CRUMB - a small lump of tar washed up on the Spanish coast
DREADCRUMB -a tiny remaining germ of fear after the acute episode has been resolved
BREAD-C RUMBA - that new Latin dance craze
PRONUNCIATION: (tom THUM)
1. A very short person.
2. An insignificant or unimportant person, especially one who lacks the power or ability in spite of high rank.
ETYMOLOGY: After Tom Thumb, the hero of many folktales, who is the size of his father’s thumb. Earliest documented use: 1579. Also see lilliput and lilliputian.
TOM THOMB - a tiny but fully functional Native American drum
TOE THUMB - vernacular for hallux
TOM RHUMB - nickname for Tom Loxodrome, a gifted navigator of the Sixteenth Century and contemporary of Gerardus Mercator, the mapmaker
MEANING: noun: A place of wickedness.
ETYMOLOGY: From French domdaniel (house of Daniel), apparently from Latin or Greek. Earliest documented use: 1801.
NOTES: It’s not clear who Daniel is in the term Domdaniel. The place Domdaniel was introduced by a French continuation of the Arabian Nights by Dom Chaves and M. Cazotte in the late 18th c. Later, the place has appeared in the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, H.P. Lovecraft, and Neil Gaiman, among others.
DOC DANIEL - what my patients called me before I retired
DOOM,DANIEL - he may have survived the den of the Lion but his days are numbered...
DO MD, ARIEL - urging the Little Mermaid to vacation in Maryland