It is only natural that as a writer I make it a point to collect interesting words. Epitome, umbrage and zenith are examples. But some words are just plain weird, and I would be hard-pressed to use …
It is only natural that as a writer I make it a point to collect interesting words. Epitome, umbrage and zenith are examples. But some words are just plain weird, and I would be hard-pressed to use them in a column. So many of the words here you have probably never seen in print. They are making a rare guest appearance.
Some of the strangest words in the English language have to do with the human body. Almost every beauty salon now offers threading for women's eyebrows. I have no idea what a threading shop does, but you cannot walk into a mall without passing one. I imagine even the threading technicians probably do not know that the area of the face between the eyebrows is known as a glabella. Not only is it a term for the skin between the eyebrows but it also applies to the slight depression of the area above the nose.
Since I just mentioned the nose, let me introduce the columella nasi. Translated as “little column” it is the piece of tissue that separates your nostrils. So, when you wipe you nose with a tissue you are also cleaning the columella tissue. Maybe that is why the Kleenex is called a tissue.
I promise you these are real words. In fact, I will give you a pinky swear, if you remember that childhood custom. The pinky is known as the minimus. When you made a promise with someone you sealed the deal by interlocking your pinkies and saying, “pinky swear.” Of course, that would not hold up in a court of law, but it was good enough in the schoolyard. By the way, minimus can also refer to the pinky toe which is the forgotten digit until you walk barefoot into something and “stub your toe.”
Now we move on to the stomach. When your stomach rumbles either from lack of food or eating the wrong items, it is called a wamble. If you want a weirder word for those stomach rumbles, try borborygmus. It was coined by the ancient Greeks. It is an onomatopoeia because to them is sounded like what it describes.
I read somewhere that many elementary schools are no longer teaching children how to write with cursive letters. With the booming use of texting and emails maybe writing by hand is waning. For many that is a good thing. Some people just scrawl making their handwriting griffonage. Griffonage is the term for illegible handwriting.
Regarding handwriting, if you happen to use pen or pencil, remember to include the tittle. When I was in grade school, teachers would always remind us to place a dot over a j or an i. That little dot is known as a tittle.
Some people profess that perfect handwriting is overrated. “What difference does it make as long as I can read it?!” The use of both a question mark and exclamation point is known as an interrobang.
When you receive a written invitation to a fancy event like a wedding or retirement party and assuming it does not suffer from griffonage, it might be time to enhance your wardrobe. A new pair of shoes might be a good way to start. At the store you step into a bannock. A bannock is the metal device patented in 1925 that measures the length and width of your foot. It was invented by Charles Bannock, the son of a shoe industry pioneer. The original model of the bannock is enshrined at the Smithsonian Museum.
With your feet in your perfectly sized new shoes, you head to the event where the waitstaff are twisting open the agraffes. An agraffe is that metal cage that holds a champagne cork in place.
Be careful drinking the champagne. Imbibing too much might lead to a hangover that could last into the overmorrow. Overmorrow is the day after tomorrow. If that is the case, I hereby invent the undermorrow, formerly known as 2 days ago.
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