Word of the day for Thursday, June 13th

In high school I had a friend that at certain points I considered to be my best friend, even though from my perspective I was always just trying to get her attention and from her perspective I was always competing with her. I disagreed with her perspective because we didn’t look alike, didn’t think alike, weren’t good at the same things, and weren’t really interested in the same things. I guess that doesn’t sound like a very good foundation for a friendship from either perspective. Maybe I just had a crush on her. She was a rather magnetic presence.

At some point in our adult lives she completely broke off contact with me without explanation, though when I saw her across the room at a school reunion she gave me a small smile and didn’t run away or anything. When a mutual friend died, I contacted her through an email address on her blog to let her know. She acknowledged receipt of my email a week later. When I read her email, it was late at night and I was drunk on wine so I wrote back immediately, something to the effect of “oh my god you wrote back oh thank god let’s talk please we have so much to talk about oh wow.” I woke up the next morning, looked at what I had sent the night before, and wrote another email that said, “Never mind. You don’t need to talk to me if you don’t want to talk to me.” And I never heard from her again.

I miss this person, but five years or so later (I’m a little slow) I’ve finally come around to the fact that yes, she doesn’t want to talk to me. And even if she did want to talk to me at this point, it would be a bit of

cavoli riscaldati, wouldn’t it? An Italian phrase meaning “reheated cabbage” that is used to describe an attempt to revive a long dead, unworkable relationship. A smelly, limp mess. Give it up. There must be something better in the fridge.


Published in: on June 13, 2019 at 4:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rhymes with seven and heaven

Here we are on Pi Day and Fancy Notions’ 11th anniversary, and I’m home sick trying to write a post. On anniversary days I usually try to write something incorporating the number of the anniversary, but looking at lists about rhymes for eleven has melted my brain. It seems there’s seven, heaven, and Kevin. Some places are trying desperately to sell me on McNevin (?), Stevan (not quite) and Estefan (get outta here), but I’m not buying that.

And then once I do delve into some famous “eleven” rhymes, that heaven/seven stuff just starts sounding stupid after a while. The best one I found was from Buck Owens:

I had six kids and you had eleven
And we had a boy, and they grew like flowers
I wish you’d come back, without you ain’t heaven
‘Cause your kids and my kids are beatin’ up ours

I don’t know how that applies here, but it’s amusing. Anyway, I’ll keep plugging on and even though my initial goal was to make it to ten years, I promise I’m going to keep doing this for a bit longer and will keep trying to look forward rather than

froward, which means difficult and contrariwise. Have a good rest of your day and think about flaky crusts and circumference/diameter ratios for me, will you?



Word of the day for Wednesday, January 16th

This company I used to work at once bought some new chairs for the conference room that were a bit of a disaster. The back and sides of these chairs were made out of bungee cord material, and while that made these chairs very comfortable, it also made it hard not to bounce on the chairs while sitting in them. People bouncing in their chairs was not especially conducive to attentiveness in a staff meeting. At some point the conference room got new chairs but the bungee chairs weren’t thrown away, and every once in a while you could see a person bobbing up and down in a cubicle with a satisfied look on their face.

If this company had been in Finland, a person could have pointed to the bobbing worker and said, “Ah, there’s a bit of

hyppytyynytyydytys over there,” and someone else could have said, “Well, that’s not exactly hyppytyynytyydytys, as they are enjoying bouncing on bungee cords; they are not enjoying bouncing on a bouncy cushion,” and the first person could have said, “Yes, you are correct. Want to grab some some lunch? I hear there is a new place with really good cloudberries and squeaky cheese down the street.” At least that is what happens in my mind when you are talking to a work colleague in Finland.


Published in: on January 16, 2019 at 7:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Word of the day for Wednesday, November 7th

Well, I don’t know. I don’t feel like talking politics today. I just don’t. Let’s go to Scotland. Let’s learn a word for pig. It would be great if that word were something fun sounding like

grumphie. Hey, we’re in luck according to Merriam-Webster. “Grumphie: pig, specifically sow. Chiefly Scottish.” Thank you for brightening my day with your name, Scottish pigs.

Published in: on November 7, 2018 at 10:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Perhaps he’s gone off the deep end

While trying to find out where the phrase “lost your marbles” came from, I found this article on the Oxford Dictionaries blog that ties together lumber, furniture, Virginia Woolf and Nicholson Baker. There are some astounding leaps in the progression of the idiom in the theory being proposed, so astounding that they remind me of the origin of “raspberry” (in lieu of “Bronx Cheer”). So that’s making me figure that the theory must be correct. Slang never makes sense.

Why was I looking up “lost your marbles”? Well…

Published in: on August 22, 2018 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Word of the day for Tuesday, June 12th

Today’s word is for all the folks out there who fear meeting a taco cat, evil olive, avid diva, or Dr. Awkward, but they’re not going to like it much. It’s

aibohphobia, spelled “aibohphobia” backwards. And yes, it is the fear of palindromes, and yes, that is an awfully mean thing to name a fear of palindromes. However, according to a bunch of very respectablelooking websites, there is no such thing as aibohphobia; it’s just some joke. Dammit, I’m mad.

Published in: on June 12, 2018 at 8:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Word of the day for Thursday, February 1st

I was listening to a somewhat boring audio book recently, and I finally had to give up on it, but I’m glad I didn’t give up on it before I heard the refined lady soberly enunciate

“absquatulate.” Absquatulate comes from trying to make “do the opposite of squat” into a faux-Latin word, the latter being something of an 1800s fad. Beat it, scoot, scram, skedaddle, beat feet, hightail it, vamoose. Thank you for the new word, refined boring lady, but shoo.

Published in: on February 1, 2018 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Word of the day for Friday, September 15th

Today’s word is neat, but it opens a Pandora’s box of other neat words so this post is going to be sort of a mess. Just to tell you. So the word is

apoculamus. Sorry if you can’t read it in the graphic above. It doesn’t really matter, maybe, because nobody is absolutely sure what it means. It’s a Latin word, and it has only been found once in all of Latin literature. It’s something called a hapax. A hapax is a word that only occurs once… in a book, in everything an author’s ever written, or everything that’s ever been written.

Some of these words of course cease to be hapaxes, because other people take them up – Shakespeare’s “bedazzled” and his somewhat lesser known “honorificabilitudinitatibus” come to mind. And others, like the ancient Greek “polemophthoroisin” coined by Aeschylus, have never been properly defined. How do you define a word that has only ever appeared once? As for the version of a hapax that occurs only once during a writer’s career, do you think you have one? I wonder what mine is. I probably have a few, seeing as I collect these words and then sit on them like a level 3 hoarder.

You can read more about hapaxes in an excellent article on Atlas Obscura here. As for apoculamus, etymologists are reasonably sure that it means “we haul ass out of here.” Haul ass and go forth with your weekend, friends.

Published in: on September 15, 2017 at 6:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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It’s complicated

Involved can mean a lot of different things: in a relationship, complex, preoccupied with, confusing. I wonder which meaning applies here.

Not sure who originally took this photo; found via Drew Magary’s Twitter feed
Published in: on July 10, 2017 at 5:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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May be covered in mint jelly

If you enjoy deadpan humor and you’re not listening to the Beef & Dairy Network podcast, get thee to some earbuds pronto. Not only is it “the number one podcast for those involved or just interested in the production of beef animals and dairy herds,” but it’s one of the few podcasts on the Maximum Fun network not hosted by a member of the McElroy extended family. (Note to Maximum Fun: too many McElroys.)

I bring up the Beef & Dairy Network today because my friend Mara found this lost cat notice that seems to back up the BDN assertion that lamb is a dangerous meat that leads to all sorts of social problems and deviancy:

Bosco would be safe at home now if he weren’t on the lamb. Sure, he looks fine in this photo, but he’s probably unrecognizable by now; he may have moved on to mutton. If you see happen to see any feline who looks to be strung out on kebabs, please call Tom or Geoff.


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