22 Nov 2023

Googlegangers + Widdershins

Q. What is that thing called again? . A. Thanks to Phineas and Ferb, millions of families now know the name of the small, protective metal or plastic tube at the end of a shoelace. All together now… the aglet. What are some other unusual words that describe the things

30 Oct 2023

Bits And Bobs

Q. First: many of us (🙋🏼‍♀️) are tempted to say “bibs and bobs,” but the expression – rooted in the UK – is bits and bobs. It’s a phrase that means this and that, a miscellany of small tasks, events, or things. Think about that teak apothecary chest at your

07 Oct 2023


Q. Where did this strange but totally satisfying word come from? Ugh. . A. ‘Ugh’, in its current English spelling, is said to date back to the late 17th Century. It’s meant to be an onomatopoeic word that – presumably when said quickly and quietly – sounds like a cough.

25 Sep 2023

Euphonious or Horrisonous?

Q. What are some lesser used or unusual words relating to sound? . A. Incoming. You’ll note that, for some of the words below, I’ve only included their sound-related meanings. Asperity Rough sound. Harsh tone. Bombilation A thrumming, humming, endlessly buzzing sound. Borborygmus A rumbling of the intestines as gas

04 Sep 2023

Lurid Chartreuse Zomp

Q. Before paint companies stormed into the colour invention business, how did some of the more unusual shades get their names? . A. One person’s turquoise is another person’s … You’ll find much debate around the precise qualities of any one colour, but these colour circles should at least get

31 Aug 2023

Three Bee Words

Q. Year after year, we get a chance to marvel at the wunderkinds who hammer out the spelling of words most of us have never heard. Yttriferous? Devastavit? What on earth do these words mean? .. A. We can start with 12 of the most difficult category of words – the

15 Aug 2023

Too Hot, Need Words

Q. What are some forgotten or little-used words relevant to hot, hot weather? You know, just in case anyone should be experiencing such a thing. . A. Apricate To luxuriate in the hot sun. Are we luxuriating yet? Besweat To drench in sweat. Caldarium The hottest room in Roman baths.

09 Aug 2023

Egg On One’s Floor

Q. As you walk, bike or drive your eggs home from the grocery store, aren’t you glad they’re not in a basket? Watch out for the… pot hole. Shoppers of yore didn’t ‘put all their eggs in one basket’ for good reason. Who can we thank for inventing the egg

26 Jul 2023

Puggles, Porcupettes + Pufflings

Q. We know about kits, cubs, calves, chicks, pups, but what are some less common names for baby animals? . A. Alligator: hatchling Ant: antling Alpaca: cria Baboon: infant Boar: shoat Cicada: nymph Cod: codling Cormorant: shaglet Echidna: puggle Goat or sheep: yeanling Grasshopper: nymph Hare: leveret Hedgehog: piglet .

10 Jun 2023

Let Vultures Gripe Thy Guts

Q. Shakespeare created much beautiful imagery with birds. Take this quote from Romeo and Juliet: ‘Haply I think on thee, and then my state, Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth, sings hymns at Heaven’s gate’ But, we do know that the Bard was brilliant