Friday, February 21, 2020

Are we keeping you up? Don't OSCITATE!

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

OSCITATE [OSS-it-ayt] (verb)

To yawn or gape

"There are persons whose physical constitutions are so delicate that mere thoughts of taking snuff (and medicines generally) produce the same effect as inhaling the powder itself: now, if the imagination of the reader has a similar influence over his system, he can have no disposition to oscitate while finishing the chapter; on the contrary, the greatest obstacle to his progress will arise from a disposition to sneeze."
--Thomas Ewbank, The Spoon (1844) (TWITO, page 104)

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Ahh! Don't make me SPANGHEW like that!

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

SPANGHEW [SPANG-hyoo] (verb)

To throw or jerk violently, to cause to fly into the air, to jump like a toad or frog

"Damien enjoyed sneaking up behind Mildred, tapping her on the shoulder, and watching her spanghew." (TWITO, page 139)

Friday, January 31, 2020

Feeling ACEPHALIC today? It's Friday!

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

acephalia (noun) acephalic (adjective)

The absence of a head or the absence of a brain

"Comparative anatomy, and acephalic monstrosities among the mammalia and man, furnish incontrovertible proofs of the brain not being the origin of the nervous system at large."
--Johann Gaspar Spurzheim, The Anatomy of the Brain (1826)

Yoko Ono once said, "Consider if it is such a catastrophe to live without your head." She added that it might make it easier to move around, since one's body would be so much lighter. Zen humor aside, I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a state of acephalia. I often live in my head -- the curse or blessing of the introvert, depending on how you look at it. I do have a rich interior life that would be hard to give up.

I wouldn't mind getting rid of the nattering jukebox of stuck records that is sometimes set to forte in my head, though.

TWITO, page 10

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Would you like GHOTI for dinner?

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

GHOTI (noun)

Alternate spelling of "fish"

"What’s this on the menu?" Jordan asked. "It says 'Ghoti'."

"I think they mean fish," Sheila replied. "The chef is a bit pretentious."

Ghoti can be pronounced like "fish":

gh, pronounced like "f" as in tough;
o, pronounced like "i" as in women; and
ti, pronounced like "sh" as in nation

TWITO, page 60

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Is your drone VOLITANT?

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


1. Flying, or capable of flying.
2. Moving about rapidly.

"When Mother gets violent, frying pans get volitant." (TWITO, page 157)

A variant is VOLITATION (TWITO, page 158) = the act of flying; flight. "Dreams of volitation led Professor Spillings to invent many crash-prone flying machines."

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Is your Xmas tree CLINQUANT?

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


Glittering, but usually 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 sort of shiny hairball, which was both pretty from a distance and disgusting close up -- like many things, I guess. (TWITO, page 32)

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Would you like a TANTARA when you enter the room?

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

TANTARA (noun)

A trumpet or horn fanfare

“Augusta always made quite an impression. Whenever she entered a room, I could almost hear a tantara.” (TWITO, page 145)

Monday, December 09, 2019

Sleepy? Solve your problems the HYPNOETIC way

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

HYPNOETIC (adjective)

Pertaining to logical but unconscious mental processes

"When Horace said he would 'sleep on it,' we knew the problem was about to be solved, thanks to his hypnoetic talents." (TWITO, page 68)

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Are CARRIWITCHETS the lowest form of humor?

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

Carriwitchet (noun)

An absurd question, a pun, a quibble, a conundrum; a jocular or facetious comment

So this hydrogen atom walks into a bar. He goes up to the bartender and orders a beer. He says to the bartender, "I think I've lost an electron." The bartender says, "Are you sure?" The electron says, "Yes, I’m positive." So this carton of yogurt walks into a bar. He goes up to the bartender and orders a beer. The bartender says, "Hey, buddy, we don’t serve yogurt in here." The yogurt says, "Why not? I’m a cultured individual." Etcetera, etcetera. Those are carriwitchets. (TWITO, page 29)

Sunday, November 24, 2019

I heard you! Stop battologizing!

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

Battologize (verb) (TWITO, page 20)

To repeat oneself excessively

"But when we pray, let us not battologize (i.e., use vain repetitions), but theologize."
--Samuel Miller (quoting the early Christian theologian Origen), "Thoughts on Public Prayer" (1849)

It can be annoying when someone keeps repeating himself, but it can be amusing, too. Whenever you hear the word or catchphrase elsewhere, you think of that person. The verbal tic becomes symbolic of him or her, like a sonic monogram or an aural coat of arms. As the Beatles said, Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Here are some words and phrases I hear from battologizers (who shall be nameless) all the time:

circle back
close the loop
have a conversation about....
pretty much
What's interesting is....
Can I ask you a question?
over to you
okay, okay, okay
Here's the thing...
whatcha got?

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Please, no GD entheomania!

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


Abnormal belief that one is divinely inspired

"The king's entheomania was the root cause of his subjects’ general woe."

This is why we don't have a king. Right?

Sunday, November 10, 2019

DESIDERATUM? With cream and sugar?

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

DESIDERATUM (noun) TWITO, page 16

= something considered necessary or highly desirable

"He was a man of simple tastes, and a cup of coffee--hot and black--was his only morning desideratum. Hers was a mocha coconut frappuccino."