Monday, December 29, 2014

Friday, December 26, 2014

Link Mania: Morbid Micturition

Nick Cave's handwritten dictionary
Drink too much coffee and you will experience "micturition", the "morbid desire to pass water". I speak from experience.


Merriam-Webster Names 'Culture' Word of the Year
Drum roll! Merriam-Webster's word of the year is... "culture"? Hmm. I think I'll go eat some yogurt and ponder this.


10 Unusual Nature Words We Should Use More Often
Including "petrichor" (TWITO, page 111): the pleasant smell of rain on dry ground. Someone should bottle it.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Much Ado about NOTHING: Krampus?

My most unusual Christmas present this year is a wooden goat mask/wall hanging given to me by someone we hired to do some renovations on our house. It has horns and a protruding tongue, and gives off a vaguely Satanic vibe. (An anagram of "Santa" is "Satan", by the way.) Maybe the gifter celebrates Krampus Night instead of Christmas -- Krampus being a half-goat, half-demon anti-Santa Clause of ancient Germanic-origin. It's the thought that counts, but I'm not sure of the gift-giver's thinking here.

Merry Krampus!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Word of the Day: Bruxing

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

bruxing [BRUKS-ing] (verb) [TWITO, page 24]

Nervous grinding and clenching of the teeth

"Desmond's incessant nocturnal bruxing drove his college roommate mad."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Random Sequence: troth

"Before her coming, Maggie was sad, but tranquil, and as she believed herself, free -- Marie left her exalted, miserable, and bound by a solemn promise to hold fast her troth, in defiance of parents, friends, evil reports, the world!"
--"Nobody to Blame" by Marion Harland, Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine, April 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

troth = pledged faithfulness or word, fidelity

"betrothed" is related I believe. And if you "keep your word" about something, you have decided to "plight your troth". ("Plight" means to promise there, not that you're putting your fidelity in a pickle.)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Word of the Day: oneiric

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

oneiric [oh-NYE-ric] (adjective) [TWITO, page 102]

Related to or suggestive of dreams

"A fairly common type observed was a state of mental confusion associated with what has been termed oneiric delirium, symptoms of which were associated with a history of concussion and exhaustive experiences."
--John H.W. Rhein, M.D.,"Psychopathic Reactions to Combat Experiences in the American Army," The American Journal of Insanity (1920)

The oneiric John Lennon song "#9 Dream" is often rattling around inside my head.

(photo by me)

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Link Mania: Reheated cabbage? When pigs fly

23 Untranslatable Foreign Words That Describe Love Better Than You Ever Thought
All you need is love... or "reheated cabbage"?


Word Buzz: demon, digital nudist, emotional support pig
When pigs fly: Your "emotional support pig" may need emotional support.


21 Phrases You Use Without Realizing You’re Quoting Shakespeare
Most surprising: "Knock, knock! Who's there..."


The Longest English Words to Ever Appear in Literature
Includes "honorificabilitudinitatibus" (TWITO, page 68). Say that 10 times fast.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Word of the Day: illapse

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

illapse (noun or verb) [TWITO, page 71]

To fall or glide into, the act of falling or gliding into something

"What moves thee, if the senses stir not? Light/Moves thee from Heaven, spontaneous, self-inform'd;/Or, likelier, gliding down with swift illapse/By will divine."
--Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

Hmm, gliding into something.... I recall driving a Volkswagen on a gusty winter night in upstate New York and gliding off the road into a snowbank. Car, passenger and driver were unharmed in this illapse.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Photo of the Week (by me)


Happy December! Time to trim the tree. Click the pic for a close-up view. Because you are not a Scrooge.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Brain Dump

I've decided to name my coffee table "tsundoku", the Japanese word for a pile of unread books.

I don't think I would have enjoyed pardoning a turkey when I was a teen. Or even now.

I found myself saying "I have a bad feeling about this" today about a certain situation. Yes, I've seen the new Star Wars trailer.

The most famous living philosopher in contemporary America is apparently Shia LeBeouf.

If you say someone is "low man on the totem pole", is that offensive to Native Americans?

Book title of the day: "Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found". Exactly what it sounds like. (I do not make these up.)

Saw "Interstellar". Wormholes, black holes, plot holes. Sci-fi space is like Swiss cheese.

"It's time to eat grandma." Commas deserve more respect.

Brit slang: "Bob's your uncle!" Meaning, "it's simple". I could use an Uncle Bob.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Random Sequence: such frippery

"Hum -- that means they call themselves 'aristocratic,' the younger folks -- for the old gentleman's always been too busy to care about your frippery called 'social distinctions!'"
--Mary W. Janvrin, "Only a Mechanic", in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, July 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

frippery (noun) = showy or unnecessary ornamentation, including in language; overly affected elegance

There's a store in my neighborhood that specializes in frippery:
fancy funishings

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Word of the Day: oikofugic

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

oikofugic (adjective) [TWITO, page 101]

Marked by the urge to wander or travel away from home

"Genevieve's employment as an flight attendant for Oceanic Airlines enabled her to indulge her most oikofugic fantasies, but an emergency landing in Uzbekistan was not one of them."

sunset sky 5

Friday, November 28, 2014

Link Mania: Email in the 16th Century?

Ten 'Modern' Words With Literary Origins
The word "email" first appeared in print in 1594. Believe it!


10 Words Every Writer Needs to Know
Including "scripturient" (TWITO, page 133, which calls it an adjective). Apparently you can also be one. Sounds better than "scribbler"?


21 Rhetorical Devices Explained
When I was a kid, my favorite fictional character was Encyclopedia Brown. Those that called him that were engaging in "antiprosopopoeia", which is the opposite of "prosopopoeia" (TWITO, page 116).

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Photo of the Week (by me): Ring Thing


Beautiful is boring. Click the pic for a closer view -- because that's what we do on the Web.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Much Ado about NOTHING

My wife collects antique bottles, including soda-pop bottles from bygone eras. Some of the names of defunct bottlers are evocative of summers past:
  • Minck's Better Beverages -- "A Sparkling Carbonated Beverage -- Triple Filtered Through Ultra-Violet Rays" (Brooklyn, NY)
  • M.H. Myers -- "For three generations, beverages of quality" (New York, NY)
  • Cheer Up (brand) -- "A Delightful Drink -- A Real Super-Charged Beverage -- For Hospital, Home, and General Use" (Morristown, NJ)
  • Hoffman Pale Dry Ginger Ale -- "Extra Dry" (Newark, NJ)
  • Skipper (brand) Beverages -- "Soda-Licious -- It's Fun to Drink" (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Manhattan Beverages -- "The Sign of Quality" (Woonsocket, R.I.)
Names like "Coke" and "Pepsi" just don't have the same ring.

Ultra-violet rays?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Random Sequence: animadvert on this

"Once I remember animaadverting severely upon the conduct of one who had spoken meanly malicious words of June herself -- words that I felt must wound her in a vital point."
--Marion Harland, "Seven Years", in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, December 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

animadverting (verb, also "animadvert") = to comment or remark critically, usually with intense disapproval

Hmm, to say "animadverting severely" seems pleonastic.

The weird thing about this bound copy of Godey's (an American magazine) is that the issues are all from the 1860s, and there is not a single unambiguous mention anywhere of the American Civil War.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Word of the Day: oojah

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

oojah [OO-zsah] noun (TWITO, page 102)

a whatchamacallit; a thingumabob

"Portia had been ruminating for a week over what to name her 'junk shop,' as she referred to her second-hand gift store. Then it came to her. 'Oojah,' she whispered, as she fondled a lamp made from a moose antler."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Photo of the Week (by me)

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

They don't make 'em like they used to. (Click the pic for a closer view -- because you have nothing better to do.)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Link Mania: Wear Bloomers in Your Snuggery!

"I Love the Snuggery of Old Words"
Those who indulge in godwottery (the use of archaic language) will enjoy this.


10 Words Every Book Lover Should Know
Including "incunabula" (TWITO, page 72 -- in its singular form "incunabulum") and "ultracrepidarian" (TWITO, page 153). Perhaps we are guilty of epeolatry.


15 words you didn't realize were named after people
How would you like to be immortalized by the dunce cap? Or underpants?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Much Ado about NOTHING: The 'F' Word

I am amazed at the number of ways there are to deliberately misspell the "F" word.


And then there's "friggin". No one ever says "what the frig" or "frig you!" however.

I'm not sure why society is so afraid of the word "fuck", which is in every comprehensive dictionary, though usually flagged as "vulgar slang". It's a very handy and versatile word, serving as it does as a verb, noun, expletive, and even, in some contexts, as an adjective: you fuck face, you fucking asshole, etc. Maybe if it was also used in situations that did not imply anger or frustration it would lose its power to shock. Unfortunately, the only context in which it is used to indicate a positive emotion is apparently in bedroom talk or pornography. And that won't help.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Word of the Day: cachinnate

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

cachinnate [KAK-ih-nate] verb (TWITO, page 26)

To laugh loudly

Things that make me cachinnate (at least inwardly): bigfoot reports, possibly apocryphal George W. Bush quotations ("Why don't the French have a word for entrepreneur?"), pro wrestling, The Office (especially the British version), and puns.

evil clown

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Random Sequence: Redowas and Galops

"In the morning, however, as she sat in the parlor at the piano, drumming away at scraps of redowas and galops, Mr. Maxell came up to her, and, after a brief 'Good-morning,' asked her to continue her playing."
--Anonymous, "Seventeen" in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, August 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

redowa (noun) = a Bohemian dance in the form of a waltz or a mazurka
galop (noun) = a lively country dance

The weird thing about this bound copy of Godey's (an American magazine) is that the issues are all from the 1860s, and there is not a single mention anywhere of the American Civil War.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Photo of the Week (by me): GhostFace

November 9 -- still Halloween on Bowers Street, Jersey City Heights
It's November -- and still Halloween on Bowers Street, Jersey City Heights. Click the pic for a closer view -- if you dare. (No, this isn't my house.)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Link Mania: Ding Dong Daddy, Are you an apptycock?

50 Old British Dialect Words to Incorporate into Conversation
Are you an apptycock? Try saying this to your peg-puff: "Let's bang-a-bonk and have a nipperkin of cuddle-me-buff." (It's not as risqué as it sounds.)


The Best Worst Names in Superhero Comics
Some of my favorites (because either very creative, mystifying, or appalling) from this blog: Arm-Fall-Off-Boy, Borb Borbb, Calorie Queen, Dinah Soar, Ding Dong Daddy, Egg Fu (he's Chinese, duh), Hate Face, Lorloxx the Layer, Man-Thing, Microwavebelle, Oonagh Mularkey, Zebediah Killgrave, and Whirlicane. There are many more.


15 Words That Are Way More Interesting Than They Seem
If you think the word "cabbaged" hardly has a musical ring to it, think again.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Much Ado about NOTHING

What exactly is porridge, anyway? Is it like oatmeal? It's not on the menu at Applebee's.

My son, who has heard about porridge in fairy tales -- it's what the three bears eat -- keeps mentioning it at odd moments, which I take to be his stabs at absurdest humor. I jokingly asked how much I would have to pay him to try to order it at his favorite restaurant (Applebee's), but he declined the offer. Porridge sounds like a ridiculously antique dish intended for paupers, like something David Copperfield would eat. Does anyone still eat it today?

For some reason, I imagine porridge is similar to oatmeal, or perhaps like the milk-softened Grape Nuts cereal I eat every morning. It doesn't sound terribly appetizing. I imagine it would be only a step above gruel, yet admirably filling. After all, if anthropomorphic bears like it, porridge must have something going for it.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Word of the Day: hoghenhine

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

hoghenhine [HA-ghen-hyne] noun (TWITO, page 67)

A member of one's family; a guest who stays more than three nights

I suggest you NOT refer to your family members or long-term guests as hoghenhines, at least not in their presence, unless you are angry with them. They might take it the wrong way.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Random Sequence

"Mrs. Boylan had retired hopelessly into the depths of her cambric before this philippic was half through."
--Marion Harland, "Nobody to Blame" in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, January 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

cambric (noun) = white linen or cotton fabric
philippic (noun) = bitter denunciation, invective

Next time you're subject to a philippic and feeling hopeless to respond, be sure to have a cambric handy to retire into. Surely that will disarm your verbal attacker... won't it?

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Photo of the Week: Sky Web (by me)

sky web
Whatsit? You've got me, but I like it. Click the pic if you do too. You know you want to.

Monday, November 03, 2014

The Phrase I'm Thinking Of: FREE eBook

Fire up your Kindles, logophiles! Starting today (November 3), the Kindle edition of my book, The Word I'm Thinking Of: A Devilish Dictionary of Difficult Words, is FREE on through Friday, November 8. Pinchfists, rejoice!

The Word I'm Thinking Of

No Kindle? The paperback is only $6.75 on Amazon. The audiobook is only $17.95 on (or free with a 30-day trial). And keep in mind that the Kindle app (which doesn't require a physical Kindle e-reader) is a free download that you can run on your computer or smartphone.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Word of the Day: godwottery

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

godwottery [god-WOT-uhr-ee] noun (TWITO, page 62)

1. Elaborate gardening
2. The use of archaic language

Verily, I say, 'tis most vexing to issue forth in antique jottings, as if from the honeyed pen of Shakespeare. One feels like an artless fly-bitten coxcomb! Or a lumpish doghearted wagtail! Or even an impertinent flap-mouthed dewberry! Fie on it! Methinks I must leave off with this gleeking, sheep-biting godwottery! Art thou in agreement?

waddesdon manor garden

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Much Ado about NOTHING

Owing to some major renovations going on in my home, I am unable to take a shower. Yikes! Instead, I have to take baths. Below is what I wrote a few years ago when I found myself in a similar situation. Still all too true...

I haven't taken a bath in years. No, it's not a lack of hygiene; it's that I'm a shower man. To me, a bath seems like a luxury, a waste of time and water. "Drawing" the bath, carefully lowering myself in, feeling around for the soap or sponge like a scavenging fish after some smaller sea creature, then washing myself in slow motion, as one tends to do underwater--it all seems very leisurely and Victorian. Then, too, I don't know how to wash my hair in the bathtub. But my main problem is that it feels . . . delightful. It's like a trip back to the womb, and I'm tempted to linger and savor it--not good if I have to be somewhere in an hour.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Photo of the Week: Twin Peaks

FIRE Walk With Me
Here's a painting I saw recently at an art gallery. Twin Peaks is returning to television in 2016. As if that wasn't exciting enough (to me), Mark Frost, co-creator of the series, will publish a novel next year detailing what has happened in that iconic, influential town since we last saw it in 1991. "It is happening again." Twin Peaks fans will recognize that quote, as well as "Fire Walk With Me". Click for a closer view.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Random Sequnce: plenishings?

"...and then arose the little 'cloud no bigger than a man's hand,' which floated thereafter in her horizon, and which slowly gathered volume until it hung like a pall over the Gilbraith home -- over the flowers and fountains, the music and books, the lofty rooms, the luxurious plenishings, and, darkest of all, over the heart of its mistress."
--Anonymous, "The Year Eighteen Hundred and Fifty-Nine" in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, October 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

plenishings (noun) = abundances

It's not a word used much anymore, although a common, related word is "replenish". "Plenishings" makes me think of overstuffed pillows and overflowing bowls of fruit.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Link Mania: Nigel and Uncle Bob meet obdormition

Feminist language: 5 terms you need to know
Nigel definitely does not get a cookie.


21 fancy medical terms for mundane problems
Including "obdormition" (TWITO, page 99) and a variant of "sternutation" (TWITO, page 140).


8 British Expressions, Explained
Need to know what those Brits are going on about? Bob's your uncle!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Word of the Day: ostrobogulous

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

ostrobogulous [os-tro-BOG-yoo-luss] adjective (TWITO, page 105)

Something weird, bizarre, unusual, or pornographic

"Mother doesn't want to go to the movies. She calls them agglomerations of ostrobogulous fantasies."

(photo by me)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Much Ado about NOTHING

Pumpkins, pumpkins, everywhere I look these days. Not in my backyard though, despite the enormous -- I would even say monstrous -- pumpkin vine growing, winding, creeping back there. It's the result of dumping a decomposing pumpkin in the garden last year; obviously, the seeds liked our soil. Maybe it's too early for a crop though. Maybe the Great Pumpkin will visit us yet by Halloween. If so, I don't think I'll murder it (him?) with a knife in a misguided attempt to create a Brobdingnagian jack-o'-lantern. Let it be.
jack o'lantern
(photo by me)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Photo of the Week: 'I Want to Believe' (by me)

A fleet of UFOs has invaded the Jersey Gardens mall!
A fleet of UFOs invaded the Jersey Gardens mall! Click for a closer view -- you know you want to.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Random Sequence: clodhopper

"Jim Wallis has come hone, Katie. He's made a heap of money speculating, and bought a house in Cincinnati, and he's going to take Susy and her mother there to live; and he says I can't have Susy -- she's going to be rich, and a city girl -- and I'm only a poor country clodhopper."
--Mary Forman, "Keeping Company", in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, April 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

clodhopper = (1.) a clumsy, awkward person, a bumpkin (2.) a big heavy shoe

If you're walking amongst a lot of "clods", I suppose it helps to wear big heavy shoes -- in case you step in it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Link Mania: Add these to your idea pot

An A to Z of Noah Webster's Finest Forgotten Words
It's World Dictionary Day! Huffington Post celebrates with this A to Z list of "forgotten" words. Not all are forgotten, though. It includes "obambulate", a variant of "obambulation" (TWITO, page 99) -- to wander aimlessly or walk about.


25 Legit Words from the Hepcats Jive Talk Dictionary
Got your boots on? Add these to your idea pot if you want to sound like a swellelegant lothario from Ontario.


Americano to zarf: a list of coffee words
Anyone care for a steaming cup of "mysore"? Includes "zarf" (TWITO, page 168).

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Word of the Day: benthos

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

benthos [BEN-thoss] noun (TWITO, page 20)

The biogeographic region that includes the bottom of the ocean, lake, or sea, and littoral or supralittoral shore zones

(The littoral zone is the part of a body of water that is close to the shore.)

"Everywhere on the foreshore except in the most desolate of localities the benthos provides a living, scanty though it may be, for inshore fisherman."
--James Johnstone, Conditions of Life in the Sea (1908)

fish face
(photo by me)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Much Ado about NOTHING

There are so many people who have the same name as me. As I told a friend at work today, I think of them as my doppelgangers, although most of them don't look anything like me. I wonder how many of them have googled their names and stumbled across this blog. Sometimes I think I should start a club or online chat room just for people who have my name. I could ask them questions. Do we have anything else in common besides our name? Are we distantly related? Are any of them related to Bill the billionaire? Maybe we could even switch identities temporarily, just to see how each other lives. "What's in a name?" Shakespeare asked. I'd like to find out. But more than that, I'd like to have a unique, distinctive name.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Photo of the Week (by me) / The T&T List

traffic patrol

The T&T List

Basil Twist
the ortolan
Riot Games
Meshell Ndegeocello
the Friedrichsbad baths
The Slanted Door

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Random Sequence: quixotic

"She came to me to beg me to release her son. She told me that in his Quixotic generosity he would doubtless hasten to me, and make me his wife; but that by so doing he would utterly destroy his own prospects."
--Mary Forman, "Wanted: A Companion", in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, September 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

quixotic = idealistic, unrealistic, or impractical; loftily romantic or extravagantly chivalrous

One might say blogging is a quixotic pursuit.

The word is derived from the character Don Quixote, the knight who wanted to battle windmills.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Link Mania: pterodactyl phlegm, dew-beaters, and beer labels

30 Old (And Useful) Slang Names For Parts of the Body
Body language -- from your twopenny to your dew-beaters.


15 Words Plagued by Unusual Silent Letters
Apropos of nothing, my faux pterodactyl has phlegm. Honest?


Suds or brewskis? American beer slang
This article reminds me of a word on page 82 of TWITO: labeorphily [lay-bee-OR-fil-ee] (noun) -- the collection and study of beer labels.

"Confronted by the huge number of empties by the back door, Wilbert blamed his obsessive labeorphily."

(photo by me)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Word of the Day: rutilant

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

rutilant [ROOT-ih-lunt] adjective (TWITO, page 128)

Bright red in color

"Though Prudence pretended to be unaffected by off-color jokes, her rutilant face gave her away."

fire truck 1
(photo by me)

Monday, October 06, 2014

Twin Peaks: It IS Happening Again

In honor of today's announcement about the return of my favorite TV show of all time, I present this blog post from a few years back:

Wow, Bob, wow, I'm tired. Instead of further forays into magniloquent persiflage, I'll share this with you:

"Starting at 10 a.m. today (EST), Miller will watch every episode of the David Lynch TV-Series Twin Peaks (including the European pilot) in a 30-hour stretch expected to run through mid-afternoon on Friday."

You can read more about performance artist Tom Miller's marathon fit of Peak here.

"I have found no evidence that anyone in the world has publicly achieved watching every episode of 'Twin Peaks' (plus the movie 'Twin Peaks - Fire Walk With Me') in one continuous sitting while only consuming coffee, cherry pie and doughnuts. I will be the first."

Thirty hours of caffeine, sugar, and surrealism. Let's rock!

Lynch Hands 80


magniloquent = high-flown or bombastic
persiflage = banter

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Photo of the Week: Neat Knits (by me)

Stay warm this winter!
Stay warm this winter! (Click the pic for a closer view. You know you want to.)

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Random Sequence: Is your "mien" mean?

"Her hands were ever eager to minister to his wants; her mien was quiet and collected, after the first burst of feeling; but her pale face and anxious eye told a story of intense inner suffering."
--Mary W. Janvrin, "The Contented Mind", in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, April 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

mien = appearance, bearing, or demeanor

You could have a mean mien, I suppose.

jug 2
(photo by me)

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Word of the Day: Do you know what "munted" means?

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

munted [MUHNT-ed] adjective (TWITO, page 92)

Broken, peculiar, abnormal, or drunk

"That night, he dreamed about opening the box again. There was a munted cup inside, a broken ceramic mug with something written on the side in a jagged font: 'I have too much blood in my caffeine system.'"

broken doll
(photo by me)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Read any good books lately?

As part of my job, I read book description blurbs. Below is one of my recent favorites. (Guaranteed 100-percent genuine -- not embellished or made up.)

"It's a depressing thought, but one day you will die. All living things die. This essay deals with the topic of death. It covers a number of famous poisoners and the poisons they dispatched to their victims. In addition to the mechanisms of drug action, the subject of apoptosis (programmed cell death) is also discussed. This essay is therefore a resource which can aid students and the layperson interested in drug/toxin action. There is also some humor."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Photo of the Week: UFOs Invade Mall (by me)

A fleet of UFOs has invaded the Jersey Gardens mall!
A fleet of UFOs has invaded the Jersey Gardens Mall. Or so it seems. I want to believe. If you do, click the pic for a closer encounter.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Randam Sequence: Verdure for Sure

"From each of the upper windows a small balcony jutted out, and Effie's imagination covered all with summer verdure."
--S. Annie Frost, "She Hath Done What She Could", in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, April 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

verdure = lush greenery, vegetation

Please don't say I have crabgrass in my yard; I prefer to call it verdure.

(photo by me)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Link Mania: Mmm...Nonnetit Bastard Pie

Old Scottish Sayings and Scottish Slang Words
So Scotland may not be an independent country, but it does have its own vocabulary, past and present. The list below includes "gowk" (TWITO, page 63), a fool or simpleton, although apparently it can be used adjectivally as well.

"Conceited gowk! Puff'd up wi' windy pride!"'
--Robert Burns, "The Brigs of Ayr" (1786)


59 More Slang Phrases From The 1920s We Should Start Using Again
Eel's hips! Includes "ish kabibble" (TWITO, page 74).


18 Apple Varieties With Badass Names
It's that time of year. Let's go Nonnetit Bastard picking! (These all sound like punk bands.)

bad apple
(photo by me)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Word of the Day: Do you know what "chaussure" means?

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

chaussure [sho-SUR] noun (TWITO, page 32)

Foot gear, shoes

"'I delight in Hessian boots,' said Rebecca. Jos Sedley, who admired his own legs prodigiously, and always wore this ornamental chaussure, was extremely pleased at this remark...."
--William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair (1848)

(photo by me)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Flickers and Feathers

Did you know there are owls in Jersey City? Even in the daytime? I didn't, but now I do, thanks to an excellent short film I saw today, Winter Bird Watching in Jersey City -- part of the Golden Door International Film Festival. This is a film that should be shown to millions on PBS. There's something about seeing these wild birds in a wintry urban setting -- perching, flapping, and flying around the untamed edges of the city with the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center in the background -- that makes you think about the city, or cities, in a very different way. Director and cinematographer John Dunstan narrates in a soothing New Zealand accent, explaining what kinds of birds these are: hawks, ravens, geese, and of course the eerily sagacious owls. The images, editing, and music all work together beautifully enough to make one wish this film could be experienced in IMAX format. But the historic, large-screen venue where it was screened -- the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre -- definitely did it justice.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Much Ado about NOTHING

Last weekend I bought a 35mm Canon SLR camera for five bucks at a local flea market. Why was it so cheap? It's a film camera. Nobody, except some high-end professional and art photographers, shoots film today, and I certainly don't. I bought the thing, which was sitting in a cardboard box along with an 8mm movie camera and some other obsolete photographic equipment, as a prop. It will be part of my Halloween costume this year, if I decide to dress up as a tourist again (complete with Hawaiian shirt and other tacky accessories). I was pleased to find it at such a reasonable price, but it does make me sad to see such a fine instrument sitting on a shelf, completely unusable, like some precious antique. I like photography, and I have some slight talent in that direction I think, but I would never have the patience for film. Not in this era of digital instantaneous... eurekas.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Random Sequence: "Quail" Without Feathers

"She had a strong, and to me incomprehensible dread of the sea, a terror as unconquerable as it was irrational. The everlasting thunder of its waves awed and oppressed her with a sense of overwhelming power; its eternal silence, its empty vastness of uninhabitable brine, chilled and repelled her; all that was weak and untrue in her nature quailed before its stern, solemn grandeur."
--Margaret Hunter Grant, "Unto the End", in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, June 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

quailed or "quail" = to cower in fear. It has nothing to do with birds, although I'm sure a quail would quail if you got too close.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Link Mania: Cromulent Eponyms

15 Words You Didn't Realize Were Named After People
Guess what eponym we can thank Amelia Bloomer for?


10 Words The Simpsons Made Famous
Including "cromulent" (TWITO, page 36). Springfield's "cromulent" motto: "A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man."


27 Phrases Only Spies Will Understand
Maybe I'm your "rabbit".

(photo by me)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Word of the Day: Do you know what "conglobate" means?

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

conglobate [KONG-lo-bate] verb (TWITO, page 33)

To form into a globe or ball

"He decided to conglobate all of his string into a weird planetesimal."

And a "planetesimal" is a small celestial body (used here metaphorically).

(photo by me)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Photo of the Week: Reflection (by me)


Real or surreal? Click the pic for a closer view, if that floats your boat.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Much Ado about NOTHING

Walking through the park with three ears of corn in my shopping bag, I stopped to listen to an accordion band.

It didn't occur to me that there was anything punny (let alone funny) about this, until later someone remarked, "Wow, five ears listening to 'Lady of Spain'!"

To which I replied, "It really wasn't that corny."

Amaizeing, huh?

(photo by me)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Random Sequence: ormolu

"His rich surroundings, though conjured by himself (or rather by his cash-books), had assumed the nature of a Frankenstein monster that awed and possessed him. He would no more have dreamt of really enjoying himself, than he would of reading any of the gilded books upon his marble and ormolu center table."
--"A Few Friends" by Korma Lynn in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, May 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

ormolu = an alloy of zinc and copper used to imitate gold, or gold powder used for gilding

All that glitters is not ormolu.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Link Mania: Unabashed, Indefatigable Martinets

10 Words with Difficult-to-Remember Meanings
Are you nonplussed by unabashed, indefatigable martinets who lack panache?


Word in the news: facekini
A ski mask for all seasons. Bank robbers, take note.


Forest for the Trees: codde, whiffletree, arboreal, sapling, bonsai, maquis, tannin, thicket...
Here are two related words, not on the (great) list above: "bosk" (TWITO, page 23), a noun meaning a small wooded area, and "sylvestral" (TWITO, page 144), an adjective pertaining to trees.

fall tree
(photo by me)

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Word of the Day: Do you know what "luciferous" means?

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

luciferous [loo-SIF-er-us] adjective (TWITO, page 85)

1. Bringing or providing light
2. Providing insight or enlightenment

"I therefore take the liberty to say, that I do not regard meteoric light as due to the presence of a luciferous atmosphere belonging to the meteorite itself...."
--Daniel Vaughan, "A Catalogue of Observations of Luminous Meteors" (1858)

And yes, the name Lucifer ("light bringer") is related.

(photo by me)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

TWITO News: Free Audiobook

Listen up, logophiles! Did you know that my book, The Word I'm Thinking Of, is also available as an audiobook, voiced by the talented Narrator Jack? It's available from, and I have 25 complimentary copies to give away. Leave a Comment here, and I'll send you a code to use to download your free copy from Audible.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Random Sequence: chanticleer

"We will endeavor to describe a village wedding in Sweden. It shall be summertime, that there may be flowers; and in a southern province, that the bride may be fair. The early song of the lark and chanticleer are mingling in the clear morning air, and the sun, the heavenly bridegroom with yellow hair, arises in the south."
--"Village Wedding in Sweden", anonymous, in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, May 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

chanticleer [SHON-toh-clear] = a rooster, though when capitalized, it can also refer to a male vocal ensemble. The word apparently comes from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, where the rooster Chanticleer is described thus:

"For crowing there was not his equal in all the land. His voice was merrier than the merry organ that plays in church, and his crowing from his resting place was more trustworthy than a clock. His comb was redder than fine coral and turreted like a castle wall, his bill was black and shone like a jet, and his legs and toes were like azure. His nails were whiter than the lily and his feathers were like burnished gold."

What a stud!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Link Mania: A Kiss Is Just an Osculation

The Magical Origins of Harry Potter Words
Like to go around humming to yourself? We'll call you Dumbledore.


The Sexy Thesaurus: A List of Words to Use in Your Romance Novel
Some of these euphemisms are pretty funny. "Pool of moisture"? The only word I didn't know was "osculation". Hard to imagine that word in a romance novel, unless it's about two pedants... osculating.


List of cool words you might love
Including "snollygoster" (TWITO, page 138) and one of my favorites: "zarf" (TWITO, page 168).

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Word of the Day: punctiform

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

punctiform [PUNK-tuh-form] adjective (TWITO, page 118)

Shaped or formed like a point or dot

"Each of his ideas would vanish in the act of awakening its successor; his mind (if such it could be called)would be shut up to the punctiform instant...."
--William James, M.D., "The Association of Ideas", in Popular Science (1880)


Monday, August 25, 2014

Much Ado about NOTHING

Stoop sitting is my latest nightly ritual. There's something about sitting on your front steps in the dark in a reasonably safe urban neighborhood that is both relaxing and intriguing. People walk past like ghosts, unaware that someone is observing them from the shadows, and I catch bits of mumbling into cell phones: "Almost home". Little domestic scenes play out in lighted windows across the street: someone is pacing back and forth, perhaps trying to resolve their mental dilemma; another figure appears to be seated as a desk, tapping a keyboard. Planes wink in the sky and dogs bark in the distance. Time stands still.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Random Sequence: A Piscatory Story

"Georgie was really pale when Norris, with the help of his clasp-knife, had freed the creature from the coil of twine, and rolling him up, unceremoniously thrust him into the covered basket provided for their booty. It was plain that she was too timid or too sensitive to cultivate the piscatory art with any hope of success."
--from "Taking Boarders for Company" by Marion Harland, in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, October 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

piscatory = of or relating to fish or fishing
I use this old book to fish for unusual words, and that's not a bad catch.

fish face

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Link Mania: What a Bangarang!

Big, Beautiful Words You Need To Start Using Immediately
But I already do...


11 Common Words That Will Boost Your Scrabble Score
And the one with the highest score? "Maximize"!


Words in the news: bangarang
"Bangarang" is a great word, but so is "hooroosh" (TWITO, page 68), which has the same meaning: an uproar, a great fuss.

"What a hooroosh is aloft there! I would e'en take it for sublime, did I not know that the colic is a noisy malady."
--Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Word of the Day: kipple

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

kipple [KIP-uhl] noun

Useless trash, junk, or rubbish, coined by science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick in his book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

"'I have to clean up this room,' said Hiram. 'Irrelevant kipple seems to multiply around me like rabbits in heat.'"
--TWITO, page 80!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Random Sequence: Propitious Weasels

"At nine o'clock, therefore, on the evening of my return, I set out in search of my weasels. The weather was magnificent and the moon at the full. No night could have been more propitious, nevertheless my vigils were vain, for no sign of a weasel appeared, and after waiting till midnight I returned home."
--From "A Ghost Story", translated from the French by Mrs. Annie T. Wood, in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, April 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

"propitious" (pro-PEH-shus) = having a good chance of success; favorable

I does seem odd to think of a nocturnal weasel sighting as propitious.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Link Mania: Not-So-Naughty Words

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Quote of the Day: Julian Barnes

"Books say: She did this because. Life says: She did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren’t. I'm not surprised some people prefer books."
--Julian Barnes

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Word of the Day: nephelococcygia

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

nephelococcygia [NEF-el-o-kok-SIJ-ee-uh] noun

Cloud gazing; the act of looking for and finding shapes in clouds; also, when capitalized,the name of "Cloud Cuckoo-Land" in Aristophane's The Birds

"Terrence spent Saturday prostrate in the yard and in nephelococcygia, finding inspiration in the thunderheads."


TWITO, page 95!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Random Sequence: Don't Be 'Discomboborated'

"Good-morrow friend, how do you feel to-day."
"Pretty well; how are you?"
"Oh, sir, the intense frigidity of the circumambient atmosphere, combining with the porosity of the earth, and joined with the humidity of the climate has discomboborated my respiration and affected my theoreticks."
--from The Casket, Volume 1, 1826

circumambient = surrounding
discomboborated = confused, upset or frustrated
theoreticks(theoretics) = theories, ideas

Lately, my theoreticks are discomboborated by circumambient construction noises. Is that a power winch or a dying whale I hear?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Link Mania: The Top 10 Invented Words

Brought to you by my book's Facebook page. And now back to our regularly scheduled program of breathing.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The T&T List: Zen Books that Never Were

Zen and the Art of Dishwashing
Zen and the Art of Coffee Drinking
Zen and the Art of Shoe Tying
Zen and the Art of Telephone Dialing
Zen and the Art of Stair Climbing
Zen and the Art of Tooth Brushing
Zen and the Art of Showering
Zen and the Art of Peeing
Zen and the Art of Shirt Buttoning
Zen and the Art of Floor Sweeping
Zen and the Art of Dusting
Zen and the Art of Vacuuming
Zen and the Art of Weeding
Zen and the Art of Lawn Mowing
Zen and the Art of Stamp Licking
Zen and the Art of Hair Combing
Zen and the Art of Recycling
Zen and the Art of Window Washing
Zen and the Art of Parallel Parking
Zen and the Art of Bill Paying
Zen and the Art of Pot Stirring
Zen and the Art of Nail Hammering
Zen and the Art of Email Checking
Zen and the Art of Door Locking
Zen and the Art of Pillow Fluffing
Zen and the Art of Cork Screwing
Zen and the Art of Can Opening
Zen and the Art of Water Boiling


"After enlightenment, the laundry." --Zen Proverb

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Word of the Day: octothorpe

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

octothorpe [OCK-toe-thorp] (noun)

The name for a telephone keypad symbol, also called a pound or hashtag symbol.

"It was a slow day at the pet store, and as the birds screamed and the puppies squealed, Sebastian stared at the telephone keypad, hoping that Fatima would call. Pound symbol or octothorpe? Which was correct? In the end, did it matter?"
TWITO, page 100!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Important Disclaimer

The information contained in this website is for mental fermentation purposes only. The associated bemusement and disorientation is provided by Twists and Turns, and while we endeavor to keep the information waggish and facetious, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, puckish or pokerfaced, about the surreality, inanity, inscrutability or dementia experienced with respect to the website, or the wonderment, randomness, provocation, or jocularity contained on the website, for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such skylarking is therefore strictly at your own risk.

In no event will we be liable for any smirking or guffawing, including, without limitation, indirect or consequential, any giddiness or inspiration toward tomfoolery, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from mental confusion or beguilement arising out of, or in connection with, perusement of this amusement.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Photo of the Week: Carnival Time in Newark, NJ (by me)

Carnival time in Newark, NJ

Send in the clowns. (You will click the pic for a closer view. Resistance is futile.)