Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Word Nerds”

Word Nerd: Places


Oh, the places you’ll go or at least get to know with this batch of terms.

firth: a long, narrow indentation of the seacoast.

wynd: a narrow street or alley.

Wind your way down a wynd

peregrinate: to walk or travel by foot; journey.

saltigrade: move by leaping.

Nothing like saltigrade by the sea

natant: swimming.

wampish: to wave about or flop to and fro.

estivate: to spend the summer, as at a specific place or in a certain activity.

Natant, wampish, estivate: water wonderful words

Word Nerd: Miscellany


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The word bank is beginning to burst forth once again with the many marvelous lexiconical delights gathered. Time to set a few free to frolic unfettered and perhaps adopted by word discerners, like you.

yakka: work, especially hard work. Teaching these days is yakka, yakka, yakka.

gnomon: the raised part of a sundial that casts the shadow. It’s nice knowing about the gnomon.

ataraxia: a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety; tranquility. The last couple of years of covid controversy leads to the need of some ataraxia.

whigmaleerie: a whimsical or fanciful ornament or contrivance; gimmick. Is a whirligig kin to a whigmaleerie?

skookum: large; powerful; impressive. A snookum could be a skookum.

tchotchke: an inexpensive souvenir, trinket. Perhaps a whigmaleerie can be a tchotchke.

wintle: to tumble over; capsize. I would appreciate an Austen heroine to wintle in an appropriate moment.

mussitation: silent movement of the lips in simulation of the movements made in audible speech. It’s more than just talking to one’s self.

armscye: the armhole opening in a garment through which the hand, and then the arm, passes, and to which a sleeve may be attached. So that’s what’s it’s called.

zugzwang: in chess, a situation in which a player is limited to moves that cost pieces or have a damaging positional effect. Does checkers possess such a term?

Definitely an eclectic assortment that deserve finding their way into your personal dictionary. Which words will you wangle into your next conversation?

Word Nerd: January


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While some revel in the Christmas season I am all for the New Year. New digits on the paystub, closer to spring, which means closer to June, which means summer break!

Celebrating the joy of the new year requires presenting a menu of festive, inspiring words that ring out the gladness of a new, and it’s hoped, better year.

proceleusmatic: inciting, animating, or inspiring

sweven: a vision; dream

pandiculation: the act of stretching oneself especially on waking

pulchritudinous: physically beautiful

perorate: to speak at length; make a long usually grandiloquent speech

Fletcherize: to chew (food) slowly and thoroughly

celerity: swiftness; speed

irrefragable: not to be disputed or contested

chuffle: to make a low snuffling sound analogous to the purring of smaller cat species, often as a greeting

heigira: any flight or journey to a more desirable or congenial place

mickle: great; large; much

prelapsarian: characteristic of or pertaining to any innocent or carefree period

rapprochement: an establishment or reestablishment of harmonious relations

yclept: called; named

azure: of or having a light, purplish shade of blue, like that of a clear and unclouded day

evanesce: to disappear gradually; vanish; fade away

hiemal: of or relating to winter; wintry

cavort: to behave in a high-spirited, festive manner; make merry

A broad range of words, ’tis true. Yet January can be a month of variance. There is the hiemal aspect, the evanesce of snow, it’s hoped, unless a new snowfall creates a mickle of the white muck, which generates a heigira urge for sunnier locale. Once January’s snows lessen, the landscape becomes more pulchritudinous as azure skies beckon overhead leading to prelapsarian attitude, although some would state the new year still holds over the old winter. Aye, that fact is irrefragable; however, a proceleusmatic sweven inspires the need towards pandiculation of outlook. Spring is closer in January than it was in November and I shall indeed cavort when the last snowflake falls. I might even chuffle once January’s page is turned aside to welcome February. Longer days and Valentines to anticipate create the need to Fletcherize in preparation to perorate upon the celerity of winter’s passing.

May your January and the meeting of the new year be one of rapprochement since the first month of the year was named for Janus, the Roman god of beginnings. A fitting yclept month as January is the doorway to the rest of the year.

Word Nerd: December


It’s December, the last month of the year. Getting through another tough year might involve celebrating and celebrating might also involve some appropriate words.

nimiety: excess, overabundance

galimatias: confused or unintelligible talk

pharaonic: impressively or overwhelmingly large, luxurious, etc.

foozle: to bungle; play clumsily

effulgent: shining forth brilliantly; radiant

specious: apparently good or right though lacking real merit; superficially pleasing or plausible

brummagem: showy but inferior and worthless

encomium: a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly

terpsichorean: pertaining to dancing

shivoo: a boisterous party or celebration

So, celebrate this last month of a challenging year, and let’s hope the new year brings new hope and healing.

Word Nerd: November


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Thanksgiving comes around in November and getting together with friends and family can be emotional for some. Needing a few choice words to express feelings might be handy.

verklempt: overly emotional and unable to speak.

velleity: a mere wish, unaccompanied by an effort to obtain it.

stultify: to render absurdly or wholly futile or ineffectual, especially by degrading or frustrating means

thrawn: contrary; peevish; stubborn

longanimity: patient endurance of hardship, injuries, or offense; forbearance

foofaraw: a great fuss or disturbance about something very insignificant

megillah: a lengthy, detailed explanation or account

brabble: to argue stubbornly about trifles; wrangle

fustigate: to criticize harshly; castigate

gasconade: extravagant boasting; boastful talk

nescience: lack of knowledge; ignorance

frumious: very angry

snollygoster: a clever, unscrupulous person

beamish: bright, cheerful, and optimistic

Let’s hope if someone should start a megillah at the table no one will fustigate or brabble should it lead to gasconade. Instead, the gathering be one that is beamish.

UPDATE: Read about a picture book that features delightful words here: https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2021/11/14/book-giveaway-hornswoggled-a-wacky-words-whodunit-by-josh-crute/

Word Nerd: Special Edition


Girandole: a spinning, rotating firework

Happy Fourth of July!

May you go Fourth and sparkle!

Word Nerds: Contronyms


I was quite chuffed, having received quite a positive response from my Kangaroo Words post.

And there it was—another strange lexiconical usage of a word. You see “chuffed” (British slang) can mean one is pleased or displeased. It becomes its own antonym. These words are known as “contronyms.”

Here’s a list to get a better idea:

bolt – to secure; to run away

cleave – separate, adhere

clip – fasten, detach

custom- usual, special

dust – add fine particles, remove fine particles

enjoin – prescribe, prohibit

fast – quick, unmoving

fix – restore, castrate

garnish – enhance (e.g., food), curtail (e.g., wages)

give out – produce, stop production

handicap – advantage, disadvantage

left – remaining, departed from

mean – average, excellent (e.g., “plays a mean game”)

out – visible (e.g., stars), invisible (e.g., lights)

put out – extinguish, generate (e.g., something putting out light)

quite – rather, completely

ravel – tangle, disentangle

sanction – approve, boycott

screen – show, hide

table – propose (in the United Kingdom), set aside (in the United States)

unbending – rigid, relaxing

weather – withstand, wear away

Talk about shades of ambiguity! Then again it keeps people on their toes to pay closer attention to the context to better understand the content.

Word Nerd: Kangaroo Words


Ah, words within words…

Kangaroo Word: A synonym within a word, like a little joey tucked away within the mama kangaroo.

alone=one

astound=stun

blossom =bloom

calumnies =lies

cavern=cave

contaminate=taint

dazzle=daze

enjoyment=joy

fabrication=fiction

honorable=noble

impair=mar

joviality =joy

lighted=lit

myself=me

nourished=nursed

observe=see

plagiarist=liar

quiescent =quiet

respite=rest

substandard=bad

A word within a word that reflects the host word—now that is a Word Nerd discovery of delight!

Word Nerd: January


Some say (including the hubs) “nerd” is derogatory. I’m of the opinion a nerd is less of an insult and more of an endearment, or at least an acknowledgement of pursuing a passion with zeal, that others might not embrace. For instance, the movie The Nutty Professor, had the singular inventor trying to prove his “flubber” invention. Deemed eccentric, the professor for all his nerdy qualities became a hero. All those computer geniuses (now CEOs and billionaires) were no doubt shuffled into the nerd nomenclature in their tinkering phase. I see “nerd” as an alternate spelling of “clever,” besides the assonance of “Word Nerd” is cool sounding.

Onward to this month’s batch of words—although if you want to jump in with your thoughts about nerds, I am much interested.

1. bight: a bend in the river or the shore of the sea.

2. limb: to portray with words; describe.

3. comity: mutual courtesy; civility

4. sobriquet: nickname

5. epizeuxis: a literary or rhetorical device that appeals to or invokes the reader’s or listener’s emotions through the repetition of words in quick succession. An example:

“Jane, Jane, Jane—you are my favorite epizeuxis.”

6. inanition: lack of vigor, lethargy

7. juberous: uncertain; undecided;dubious

8. aroint: begone as in “Aroint thy, scalawag!”

9. legerity: physical or mental quickness; agility

10. doddle: something easily done. Fixing the flat tire wasn’t a problem at all—it was a doddle.

11. blatherskite: someone given to empty talk.

12. spang: directly; exactly

13. butyraceous: containing or resembling butter.

14. cachinnate: to laugh loudly or immoderately.

15. illation: an inference; a conclusion

16. totis viribus: with all one’s might

17. ambivert: a person between an extrovert and an introvert*

18. caduceus: dropping off early as in The leaves were noticed to have a caduceus departure this autumn.

19. mardy: grumpy, sulky

20. clement: mild in disposition; compassionate

*this word, ambivert, solves the puzzle of designation. A few within my circle have often contemplated how to most accurately describe our situation of being known as social, even boisterous, yet reluctant at joining large gatherings. Suggestions have included “high-functioning introvert” or “gregarious hermit.” The classification of “ambivert” seems acceptable, although the desire to write with either my left of right hand suddenly becomes immediate.

What words leapt out at you as keepers this month?

May I get personal? An ambivert perhaps you are? (Yoda syntax is less intrusive)

Word Nerd Confessions: September 2020


Traditionally the month of September signifies the end of summer vacation and the return to school. September 2020 is the year of trying to attempting to educate during a pandemic. This month’s list seems to reflect an opinion on that essential issue. It’s indeed peculiar how the words happened to line up in this theme.

barmecidal: giving only the illusion of plenty

operose: done with or involving much labor

elide: to suppress; omit; pass over

slubber: to perform hastily or carelessly

outre: passing the bounds of what is usual or considered proper; unconventional; bizarre

horripilation: a bristling of the hair on the skin from cold, fear; goose bumps

strepitous: boisterous; noisy

chutzpah: audacity; nerve

oppidan: urban

peripeteia: a sudden turn of events

mythomane: a person with a strong or irresistible propensity for fantasizing, lying, or exaggerating

fettle: state; condition

blench: to shrink; flinch

cacoethes: an irresistible urge; mania

moil: to work hard; drudge

muzz: to confuse (someone)

moue: a pouting grimace

fardel: a bundle; a burden

succedaneum: a substitute

lassitude: weariness of body or mind from strain, oppressive climate; lack of energy; listlessness

stonking: used to emphasize something remarkable, exciting, or very large (thanks to Fiction Fan’s Book Reviews inspiring use)

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