’20 A To Z Challenge – X

 

How do you catch a bear??  You dig a hole in the forest, and build a big fire in it until it burns down to ashes.  Then you place frozen peas around the rim of the hole.  When the bear stops for a pea, you kick him in the ash-hole.

All of which is easier than catching a theme for the letter X.  I recently published a post with references to Utopia, Brigadoon, and Shangri-La.  Since I did not include it there, and with inspiration (and words that begin with X) so thin on the ground, I’ve decided to feature the word

XANADU

a place of great beauty, luxury, and contentment.

Xanadu – the movie – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanadu_(film)

Xanadu – the poem (part of it) – By Samuel Taylor Coleridge – actually titled

Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

   Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and towers were girdled round;

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

The Xanadu in the poem was inspired by Shang-tu, the summer residence of Mongolian general and statesman Kublai Khan (grandson of Genghis Khan). You might also recognize “Xanadu” as the name of the fantastic estate in Orson Welles’s 1941 film Citizen Kane.  Coleridge’s fantastic description of an exotic utopia fired public imagination and ultimately contributed to the transition of “Xanadu” from a name to a generalized term for an idyllic place.

There’s everything that you never wanted to know about Xanadu.  After (almost) completing this post, I decided on a likely suspect for next year.  After that, you’re on your own.  The alphabet will only contain 25 letters.  Any suggestions or requests will be gratefully accepted, unless you want an exciting and extended treatise on the development and use of the cedilla.   😳

Dead Words

Alas, we barely knew ye.

Language is constantly changing, as new words gain popularity and old ones start to disappear. Often, we don’t really notice when they’re gone, unless they’re specifically describing an object or piece of technology that’s become obsolete. But there are plenty of other words—nouns, adjectives, verbs, and more—that are silly, hilariously specific, or just plain fun to say… and yet we don’t use them anymore! Let’s take a linguistic leap back in time and explore these delightful words that have disappeared from the dictionary.

Snollygoster

Why oh why, would a word with such epic possibilities for widespread mockery fall into oblivion? This term may be related to the German word snallygaster, a reptilian beast that hunts kids and farm animals. A snollygoster is an unscrupulous politician—someone generally corrupt, unethical, and shameless. Such a handy term for contemporary times!

Jargogle

This is one of those terms that kind of performs its own definition. It sounds jarring and gets one a bit agog with curiosity. It means to confuse or bamboozle, and does just that since you’ve probably never heard of this word from the 1690s. Time to pull it back into modern jargon.

Apricity

“April is the cruellest month,” as T.S. Eliot put it in 1922 in The Waste Land. April is still winter weather, but it teases that you’re in spring. The ideal term for this is apricity, or “the warmth of sun in winter.” This term hails from 1623 but hasn’t gotten much modern usage despite its efficient euphony—that is, despite its pleasing sound and awesome reference to April.

Ultracrepidarian

Mark Forsyth searched old dictionaries for his book on obscure, forgotten words, The Horologicon. One of his favourites, and rightly so, is ultracrepidarian. It’s a very extra, or ultra, term for your average know-it-all. It’s the perfect descriptor for the person who has vast opinions on topics about which they know nothing—and comfortably yammers on about them.

Sanguinolency

This bizarre term has no obvious relation to the more upbeat word “sanguine,” which means “optimistic,” but secondarily, “ruddy.” That must be its tie to “sanguinolency” which has the dismal definition, “addiction to bloodshed.” Because this word is so old and obscure, it likely doesn’t refer to bloodshed of the video game variety. Of all the things to be addicted to, bloodshed seems one of the very worst.

Bibesy

This is an adorable, possibly 18th-century word that seems to play in a slang-y way on the word “imbibe.” It describes a seriously enthusiastic interest in drinking. Use it when you want to get bibesy with your bae on friyay! It fits perfectly with contemporary night-life argot.

Slubberdegullion

Here is another beautifully performative term that at its most base refers to one who slobbers. More precisely, however, a slubberdegullion must also be a “dirty fellow,” as well as worthless, careless, negligent, insignificant, and slovenly. Fifteenth-century vocab came at folks hard with the insults! Such a savage burn! Roasted!

Crinkum-crankum

This is basically when you get high key extra with the details. When your outfit or decor makes an over-the-top, elaborate effort to be hyper fancy, it is crinkum-crankum. This mid-17th-century term sounds so lit! Time to get crinkum-crankum back in circulation!

Snowbrowth

Now that the polar vortexes and other wintergeddon weather are in full swing, it’s time to pull this cute, obsolete term out of cold storage. Snowbrowth is simply melted snow. When you think about it, the fresh melt does look somewhat like a broth or a soupy snow stew covering the ground. Winter needs this word!

Snoutfair

It doesn’t even make sense that this word that conjures a pig face actually means “a person with a handsome countenance.” It makes sense that “snoutfair” fell to the wayside, and instead we say “hunk,” “hottie,” “stone cold fox,” “scooby snack,” “sexy beast,” and “cutie patootie.” Those aren’t fantastic, but frankly, “snoutfair,” is worse.

Curglaff

Think of a cold, harsh splash, and the strange merge of laughter and gurgling that comes after. Curglaff, of Scottish origin, is the absolute ideal term to describe “the shock felt when one first plunges into cold water.” In fact, it seems perfect for describing any kind of shock.

Spermologer

This is not a science word and does not refer to biology! It’s the witty term for a “gossip monger.” You can also use it to describe trivia hounds and those filled with random knowledge. A spermologer is a collector of sorts. Society is probably fine if this word continues its descent into obscurity.

Elflock

You know how when the elves tangle up your hair? Back in the 1590s, this hairstyle was called the elflock. Feel free to adapt the term for any of the creatures who matt up your hair. Think of the gnomelock, the yetilock, the dragonlock, the kelpielock, or the wolfmanlock. You get the idea! Remember the term is usually plural, so it requires more than one tangler or stylist.

Spell Check has drawn a bright red line beneath each of these words, saying that they don’t exist in reality…. all except Elflock.  That one, apparently, it recognizes.  Very interesting!

Tell Me If You’ve Heard This One – III

Why did the chicken cross the lexicon?  To get to the other side of the dictionary.
What’s the good word?  All of them.  Look out vocabulary, here they come.

Adjutant – Adjutant is a military appointment given to an officer who assists the commanding officer with unit administration, mostly the management of human resources in army unit.

Argute – Sharp, perceptive, shrewd. Origin: from Latin argutus, past participle of arguere ‘clarify’….

Bamboozle – to deceive or get the better of (someone) by trickery, flattery, or the like; humbug; hoodwink (often followed by into): to perplex; mystify; confound.

Bamboozle is one of those words that has been confounding etymologists for centuries. No one knows for sure what its origins are. One thing we do know is that it was originally considered “low language,” at least among such defenders of the language as British satirist Jonathan Swift, who hoped (and predicted) that it would quickly fade from the English lexicon.
The earliest meaning of bamboozle was “to deceive by trickery, hoodwink,” which is why some believe that it arose among the criminals of the underworld.

Clusterfist – First found in the 1600s, clusterfist can refer to a few types of disappointing individuals. In one sense, cluster means clumsy, and a clusterfist is a type of oaf or boor.  Clusterfist in Community Dictionary is someone who is “tighter than Kelsey’s peanuts” regarding parting with a buck; a parsimonious peckerhead.

A young Black woman recently wrote about how shocked and embarrassed she was to find that her name, Ebony, was a porn category.  😯  EVERYTHING is a porn category.  The modern definition of clusterfist is a fisting of someone simultaneously by over 6 individuals usually leading to severe pain and hilarity at just what a muppet that individual had been for agreeing.

Coracle – (especially in Wales and Ireland) a small round boat made of wickerwork covered with a watertight material, propelled with a paddle.

Frangible – fragile · breakable · brittle – easily broken · easily damaged · delicate · flimsy · insubstantial

Friable – easily crumbled – powdery – dusty – chalky

Futz – Informal futz (around) with, to handle or deal with, especially idly, reluctantly, or as a time-consuming task

Glassine – Glassine is a smooth and glossy paper that is air, water, and grease resistant.  Another Technological obsolescence term, while still available, almost every use of glassine has been replaced by ubiquitous plastic.

Insouciant – free from concern, worry or anxiety – carefree – nonchalant

Intrepid – resolutely fearless, dauntless, daring, bold
If you haven’t, you can read a book titled A Man Called Intrepid, about which, several historians claim that he fudged the facts about his intrepid WWII British Intelligence career.

Keloid – an area of irregular fibrous tissue formed at the site of a scar or injury.

Lieutenant – a deputy or substitute, acting for a superior – from French, lieu – in place of, tenant – holding

Logorrhea – pathologically incoherent, repetitious speech – incessant or compulsive talkativeness – wearisome volubility  Therefore, a Logo is a symbol which constantly ‘speaks’ for its corporation.

Melmac – For those of you TV snobs and binge-watchers, who thought that Melmac was only the home planet of ALF, it is actually a brand of dinnerware moulded from melamine resin, popular in the mid-twentieth centuryThat’s the stuff that the Chinese tried to poison us with, by putting it baby formula and pet food, before they unleashed COVID19 on us.

Rapacious – practicing pillage or rapine, greedy or grasping, (of animals, esp. birds) subsisting by catching living prey, ravenous, voracious  (Does it remind you of any politicians you know?)

Scree – a mass of small loose stones that form or cover a slope on a mountain.  That is the normal definition, but since the word was found in a poem which included screeching seagulls, it is onomatopoeia for their cries.

Scritch – Speaking of seagulls and onomatopoeia, depending on how and where it is used, it is a dialect form of either screech, or scratch.
It’s also something that my cats and dogs climb into my lap, to demand from me.

Scumble – Verb: To modify (a painting or color) by applying a very thin coat of opaque paint to give a softer or duller effect.  Noun: a thin, opaque coat of paint or layer of shading applied to give a softer or duller effect.

Shambolic – Shambolic, “disorganized; messy or confused,” is a colloquial adjective, used mostly by the British. The word is a combination of shambles and symbolic. Shambolic is a fairly recent coinage, entering English about 1970.

Tartuffery – religious hypocrisy, or pretention to excellence in any field

Truculent – adj: eager or quick to argue or fight, aggressively defiant

Varlet – a knavish person; a rascal, a menial servant, a knight’s page
Origin of varlet: 1425–75; late Middle English < Middle French; variant of valet

WOW #64

I recently ran into a neologism.  😯  A little Bondo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bondo_(putty) and some spray paint, and all was well.

I’m talking about

MALAPHOR

malaphor – Is also called an idiom blend.  Most of us have heard one or two.  Many of us have created one.  It happens when the mind is so busy putting together a sentence that we mash together two idioms, to produce an amusing-sounding result.

Recently, a lady blogger said, “I’m slipping on my words.”  This is a mixture of, slip of the tongue and tripping over one’s words.  The cube-drone who invented, “trial by error,” was having trouble justifying his project’s expenses, and combined his two trials, trial and error, and trial by fire

The guy who was angry at a tRump apologist showed restraint, but invented, “biting my teeth” by melding biting my tongue, and baring my teeth (in anger).  Biting your teeth is as hard as biting the back of your neck, or biting your elbow – although, a recent online poll asked if I could lick my elbow – which makes me suspect that some Ubangis can do it.

An advertising executive said that he had to “pull the bullet”, because he was forced to bite the bullet and pull some strings, to get assistance from senior management.  ….Speaking of pulling some strings – a television comedian told an interviewer that he had “pulled out all the strings” on his recent special, mixing the pulling strings (to get the best production,) and pulling out all the stops on an old organ, to get the grandest performance from it.

I’m usually only confused with one thing at a time.  Have you created or heard some other malaphors??  😕

’20 A To Z Challenge – M

I don’t exactly hate poetry, I just hate what sometimes passes for, and pretends to be, poetry.  I have written some poetry, and had some poetry written about me.  I am going to introduce you to the word for the letter M Challenge this year.

Musophobist

A person who regards poetry with suspicious dislike.  From the Greek words meaning “Muse” and “fear.”
A person who doesn’t like poetry and is suspicious of it.

This word was used (and probably coined) by the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909), who quite possibly inspired more than a few musophobes, with poetry that was as dark and disturbing as Edgar Allen Poe’s works.

Some of the best contemporary poets are song writers.  If you listen to, or read the lyrics to their songs without the music, you find that they reference social situations, with intricate, repeating, progressing word play.  We’ll ignore Justin Bieber, who actually doesn’t write poetry much better than I do.  Justin Timberlake has some good stuff, and I like Ed Sheeran who, like Billy Joel, writes poetry/lyrics about his life.

I’m stuck in the past, liking writers such as Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, and (another) Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues.  THE BOSS, Bruce Springsteen, made a name for himself writing intricately-rhyming songs for other singers, before he began performing them himself.  Sadly, in the song Blinded By The Light which was released by the group Manfred Mann, a young singer with a speech defect turned a 1932 “Deuce” hot-rod into a douche.  😳

On a couple of Moody Blues albums, between some beautiful songs, John Lodge does a spoken-word recitation of poems that didn’t turn into songs.  I’ve published them before, but for those who may have missed them, here they are again.

MOODY BLUE

Breathe deep the gathering gloom.
Watch light fade from every room.
Pensitive people look back and lament,
Another day, uselessly spent.

Impassioned lovers wrestle as one.
Lonely man cries for love, and has none.
Senior citizens wish they had some.
New mother picks up and suckles her son.

Cold-hearted orb, that rules the night.
Removes the colors from our sight.
Red is grey, and yellow, white,
But we decide which is right.

And which, is an illusion….

 

MOODY CONTEMPLATION

Between the eyes and ears there lie
The sounds of color
And the light of a sigh
With thoughts of within
To exclude the without
The ghost of a thought
Will exclude all doubt
And to name this thought
Is important to some
So they gave it a word
And the word is ‘OM’

 

WOW #61

Syzygy

The planets have aligned, so it’s a propitious time for me to tell you that we Virgos are very skeptical, and don’t believe in all that Astrology BS.  Rochelle’s weekly FF picture didn’t provide me with any inspiration or creativity, but she did donate a lovely word for a WOW post.

SYZYGY

an alignment of three celestial objects, as the sun, the earth, and either the moon or a planet:

A, I, and O (like O Canada, or O beautiful for spacious skies, in America The Beautiful – not Oh!), are the only words in the English language with no consonants in them – although U, in text-speak seems to be coming on strong.

SYZYGY is the longest word with no true vowels.  It is followed by slyly, and the kids, shy, sly, spy, sty, sky, try, fly, fry, why, cry, by, archaic thy, nymph, and lymph, as well as the crafty lynx. (Have I forgotten any?)  For many years, I thought – and I still wish – that it was pronounced sigh-zih-gee, so that it would demonstrate all three possible sound options for the almost-vowel, Y.  Sadly, it utters the more prosaic, sih-zih-gee.

It has a couple of other, even less common meanings:
Classical Prosody. a group or combination of two feet, sometimes restricted to a combination of two feet of different kinds.
any two related things, either alike or opposite.

Does this mean that an ash tray, and a frying pan, somehow have a SYZYGY, because they are both objects in my house that people put something into??!  😯

Ahh, English; that beautiful, yet bizarre language.  You don’t have to be crazy to want to try to learn how to speak/write it.  We will train you.  😳  I am also trying to train you to stop back again next week.  Whoever finds and drags back Erato, my muse, before I need her for next week’s Flash Fiction, receives a complementary serving of French toast.  😀

Flash Fiction #230

Jiggery

WOW

I couldn’t get too egg-cited about Rochelle’s photo prompt, but I finally decided on a theme for a Word Of The Week post.  It took a little

JIGGERY-POKERY

but I did it.

trickery, hocus-pocus; fraud; humbug.
sly, underhanded action.
manipulation:

C19: from Scottish dialect joukery-pawkery

Like many folk-sayings involving the Scots, its pronunciation has changed over the years.  Joukery means a sudden, elusive movement, or, to duck or dodge.  It comes from the Old English word which gave us both jerk, and jink.  High jinks – high-jinks – or hi-jinks, therefore, is/are boisterous celebration or merrymaking, unrestrained fun.

Pawky, in British English, means cunning, or sly.  In Scottish, it means having a dry wit – from the Scottish word pawk, meaning trick.

***

I couldn’t hatch a 100 word post from Todd Foltz’s photo prompt.  It took a little sly, underhanded, linguistic, broken-field running to produce this.  I hope a few are interested.

Friday Fictioneers

WOW #59

Here’s a soft, sweet piece of nostalgia for this week’s Word Of the Week

POTSY

Potsy means = hopscotch, and several dictionary websites have no idea why, except to say that it is an Americanism, first noted 1930 – 35.  The ‘scotch’ in hopscotch is a line – cut, or scored – made a mark.  This is why Macbeth said, “We have scotched the snake, not killed it.”  Sweet butterscotch is removed from a large, flat sheet by cutting or scoring it.  I thought that butterscotch was a gateway drug for teenage drinking.  You loved Butter Beer at Harry Potter’s, now try our single malt – Butter Scotch.

Potsy

In the popular TV series, Happy Days, Anson Williams played the character of Potsy (actually, Potsie) Weber, which matched the goofy, likable character of Skippy, in the Family Ties series.  Both nicknames may have been applied because of their nerdy, ADHD type of erratic behavior, bouncing and skipping from subject to subject.

Potsy (or Potsie) is obviously just a nickname, and not very common.  Other than the Happy Days reference, the only other ‘Potsy’ I could find was Thomas Clinton –Tom – ‘Potsy’ Jones (1909 – 1980), who played NFL football for eight years in the early 1930s, for four different teams.

Despite extensive research (alright, I Googled it and got no answer), I can’t find how/why/when he acquired it.  Now that Canada has legalized marijuana, I wonder if we’ll start hearing of more Canucks named Potsy, who are One Toke Over The Line.

It would be sweet if you’d hop back here on Monday, to see what verbal abuse I’ve inflicted on the English language, in the name of the letter F.  There’s no need for social distancing, so you won’t have to form a line.  😀

Tell Me If You’ve Heard This One – II

Love English

I’ve been reading again, everything from the Dictionary, down to the laundry label on my jeans, and tea leaves. You will run into a very strange man – but it will just be the full-length mirror in the bathroom.

For no good reason, this is another list of a few more interesting but non-common words that have wheeled through the skateboard park that is my mind.

Bookworm

asseverate – to declare earnestly or solemnly, to affirm positively

brisance – the shattering power of high explosives

cavil – a trivial and irritating objection, to raise such an objection or to find fault unnecessarily

daubery – unskillful painting or work

eristic – someone who engages in disputation, a controversialist, a troll

farouche – fierce, unsociable, shy, sullen

glabella – the flat area of bone between the eyebrows

hie – to speed, to go in haste

illation – drawing a conclusion

jussive – expressing a mild command

kerf – a cut or incision made by a saw or other instrument

lepidote – covered with scales or scaly spots

marmoreal – of or like marble

nictitate – wink

orison – a prayer

picaresque – roguish

quondam – former

redintegrate – to make whole again

scandent – climbing (like a plant)

telluric – earthly, terrestrial – see also Tellurian

univocal – having only one possible meaning, unambiguous

vulnerary – useful for healing wounds

wedeling – a series of alternating turns made at high speed, especially skiing

xeric – relating to an environment containing or characterized by little moisture
the basis for the Xerox machine, which uses dry ink

yaffle – to speak vaguely, pointlessly and at considerable length

zymosis – an infectious or contagious disease
Placed on this list 6 months ago – long before COVID19

 

Double The Fun

Comedy

Yesterday, I went to my boss and asked, “Can I have next week off for Christmas?”
He said, “It’s MAY.”
“Sorry boss, MAY I have next week off for Christmas?”

***

My roommate claims that I’m schizophrenic….
….The joke’s on him. I don’t have a roommate.

Today is International Cannibal Day….
….Celebrate with a friend

My head says, Gym….
….My heart says, Nachos

My wife tripped and dropped a basket of freshly ironed clothes….
….I just sat back and watched it all unfold

I just bought a new mouse pad….
….That should stop them leaving footprints all over the kitchen

Kids don’t put anything back where they got it….
….unless it’s an empty cereal box

There are two times when a man doesn’t understand a woman….
….before marriage, and after marriage

A little boy asked his father, “How much does it cost to get married?”….
….Dad replied, “I don’t know. I’m still paying.”

The secret to a happy marriage remains a secret.
Henny Youngman

Marriage is the main cause of divorce.

Death and taxes are inevitable….
….but at least death doesn’t keep getting worse

What happens when two raindrops fall in love?….
….They become rain beaus!

A seal walks into a club….

I tried to pack myself into a small suitcase….
….I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself

My religious next-door neighbor worships exhaust pipes….
….He’s a Catholic converter.

My Mother-in-law fell down a wishing well….
….I was amazed. I didn’t know they worked

I’m on a vodka diet….
….I’ve lost three days already

I was never a fan of SpongeBob….
….I prefer dry humor

To the person who stole my glasses….
….I will find you. I have contacts

You should always hang out your laundry….
….otherwise it’s launwet

God moves in mysterious ways….
….but Bishops move diagonally

I have a new theory on inertia….
….but it doesn’t seem to be gaining momentum

I invented a new word….
….Plagiarism

People who live in glass houses….
….should think twice before making purchases

How do I feel about the Earth’s rotation?….
….It makes my day

A Thesaurus is great….
….There’s no other word for it.

I’ve decided to sell my vacuum cleaner….
….Well – it was just collecting dust

My Father suggested that I register for a donor card….
….He’s a man after my own heart

I had a great childhood. My Dad used to put me in a tire and roll me downhill….
….Those were the Goodyears