Sunday, January 10, 2021

How many times could you have said "What an IMBROGLIO" lately?

What's the word I'm thinking of? Today, it's....

IMBROGLIO [im-BRO-lee-o] (noun)

A confusing, complex, or embarrassing situation, a painful misunderstanding, or a scandal

"Mr. Ervin Wardman, in the Broadway Magazine for April, exhaustively reviews the McClellan-Hearst-Murphy imbroglio, and concludes that Mr. Hearst’s real ambition, the goal of his desire, is the White House."
--Albert Shaw, The American Monthly Review of Reviews (January–June 1907)

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Do you miss the CANOROUS sounds of a live concert?

What's the word I'm thinking of? Today, it's....

CANOROUS [can-OR-uss] (adjective)

Melodious; musical

"The dull life at Oxford was varied by the occasional visit of a mesmeric lecturer; and one youth caused peals of canorous laughter by walking round in a pretended mesmeric sleep and kissing the pretty daughters of the dons."
--Thomas Wright, The Life of Sir Richard Burton (1906)

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Are you dreaming of a CLINQUANT Christmas?

What's the word I'm thinking of? Today, it's....

CLINQUANT [KLING-kunt] (adjective)

Glittering, but in a false or cheap way, like tinsel

"No, there are too many of these fine sparks you talk of who perhaps may be very clinquant, slight, and bright and make a very pretty show at first, but the tinsel-gentlemen do so tarnish in the wearing, there’s no enduring them."
--Thomas Shadwell, The Virtuoso (1676)

I once had a cat that liked to eat the tinsel (of the “icicle” type) off the Christmas tree. Maybe he had an iron deficiency. Anyway, he always threw it up later, in a clinquant hairball, which was both pretty from a distance and disgusting close up--like many things. (TWITO, page 32)

Sunday, December 13, 2020

It's all over except for the EJULATION

What's the word I'm thinking of? Today, it's....

EJULATION [ej-yoo-LAY-shun] (noun)

A wailing; lamentation

“‘Eleven years of solitary confinement!’ is the ejulation of Mr. Dickens, forgetting the crime for which the man was imprisoned!”
--Joseph Adshead, Prisons and Prisoners (1845) (TWITO, page 44)

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Time for a COSMOTELLURIAN perspective, no?

What's the word I'm thinking of? Today, it's...

COSMOTELLURIAN [cos-mo-tel-OO-ree-an] (adjective) 

Pertaining to both heaven and earth 

"So, feet on the ground, head in the stars, eh?" said Mr. Dolty. The astronomer smiled patiently and said, "I think of myself as a cosmotellurian investigator." (TWITO, page 35)

Sunday, November 29, 2020

It all seems a bit CATAWAMPUS, doesn't it?

What's the word I'm thinking of? Today, it's...

CATAWAMPUS [kat-uh-WOM-pus] (noun or adjective)

1. Askew, crooked, diagonal (adjective)
2. An imaginary wild animal (noun)

"[T]he circle is the most beautiful shape in nature. Young gentlemen seem to be aware of this, and by means of a material called hair they contrive to manufacture faces of all forms, from a perfect circle to a catawampus ellipse. If they want an elliptical face, they create a patch of hairs on the chin...."
--North Carolina University Magazine (1852) (TWITO, page 29-30)

Try to imagine what an animal called a catawampus might look like. I picture a swamp-dwelling creature that would be a cross between a lion and an octopus. Or the Jabberwock.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

We don't need another we?

What's the word I'm thinking of? Today, it's...

JEREMIAD [jer-uh-MY-ud] (noun)

A long lament or complaint, or an angry harangue, derived from the name of the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah

"Yes, a Jeremiad is needed. But not Mr. Noyes's kind of Jeremiad. For the whole effect of his Jeremiad is that we are going to the dogs, and that there is absolutely nothing good in free verse."
--Edmund Kemper Broadus, "The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet" in The Canadian Forum (1922) (TWITO, page 77)

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Does all this uncertainty have you BRUXING?

What's the word I'm thinking of? Today, it's...

BRUXING (verb) [BRUKS-ing] Nervous grinding and clenching of the teeth

"Desmond’s incessant nocturnal bruxing drove his college roommate mad." (TWITO, page 24)

Sunday, November 08, 2020

VECORDIOUS times, huh?

What's the word I'm thinking of? Today, it's...

VECORDIOUS (adj) [veh-KOR-dee-us] Mad, crazy, senseless

"Last weekend, when I went to visit my vecordious Aunt Helen at the Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital, I encountered an escaped mental patient in the parking lot. She was wearing a dress that appeared to be stitched together from latex gloves and a plastic bucket on her head as she crawled toward me like some kind of human tarantula." (TWITO, page 154)

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Which way will it go? The times are DISTICHOUS

What's the word I'm thinking of? Today, it's...

DISTICHOUS [dis-ti-kuss] (adjective) Divided into two parts or two rows

"His tail? Distichous, say the books. Feathers are mostly distichous, hair-partings are distichous, the moustache is distichous. So is the dormouse tail; but the hairs along it do more than merely part. They curl, upwards from the root, downwards to the point, and form a plume."
--Douglas English, Wee Tim’rous Beasties (1903) (TWITO, page 42)

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Don't be a RANTIPOLE! Wear your mask.

What's the word I'm thinking of? Today, it's...

RANTIPOLE [RAN-ti-pohl] (noun, adjective or verb)

A wild, reckless person

"This rantipole hero had for some time singled out the blooming Katrina for the object of his uncouth gallantries, and though his amorous toyings were something like the gentle caresses and endearments of a bear, yet it was whispered that she did not altogether discourage his hopes."
--Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (1820) (TWITO, page 122)

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Are you a MUMPSIMUS? Then you're wrong...

What's the word I'm thinking of? Today, it's... 

MUMPSIMUS [MUMP-sih-muss] (noun)

Someone who adheres to old ways that are obviously wrong

"The best of the joke is, that Johnston, who seems here to have deserted for a moment the old mumpsimus, contradicts himself in the very next page, and having laughed at ‘broken’ metaphors in one breath, attempts, in the next, to ‘reduce’ one, after a manner of surgery almost as awful as that of Warburton himself."
--T. D., "On the use of Metaphors" in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, (1825) (TWITO, page 92)

Hmm. Who might we apply this word to? I’m thinking of a certain mumpsimus from a certain political party. Maybe you are, too, even if it isn’t the same party. That’s politics.










The illustration is from the 1894 book Laughable Lyrics: A Fourth Book of Nonsense Poems, Songs, Botany, Music, etc. by Edward Lear.