songofcopper: (pendigestatory interludicule ^_^)
I devoutly desire to defy description, and yet occasionally I pick up a word (in a bookshop corner or in that disreputable dive, the Thesaurus) that knows me at a glance. Such a one batted its lashes in my direction just the other afternoon.

And here it is:

HETEROCLITE —!! (Well, yes. It rather looks that way, doesn’t it?)

Reel yer feelers back in, because this is its definition:

heteroclite |ˈhɛt(ə)rə(ʊ)klʌɪt| formal
abnormal or irregular: the book suffers from the heteroclite and ill-fitting nature of its various elements.
• an abnormal thing or person.
• an irregularly declined word, especially a Greek or Latin noun.

I like it fine, don’t you?! The odd, coyly and dishonestly garbed… this feels painfully correct.

I especially like that this word would probably be embarrassing to pronounce. Just try dropping it into conversation in the Post Office queue.


This morning, I unexpectedly got another interesting word (two, in fact) free gratis with my cup of coffee.

My weekly stint at the bookshop on Thursday mornings coincides with the Farmers’ Market, and one of the stalls there sells an excellent cup of coffee. I noticed that some of the ground coffee for sale was apparently produced using the ‘Yellow Honey’ process. How poetic! I had to ask what that meant. Apparently, this terminology is used in Central America (other regions use more matter-of-fact lingo for the same thing). Depending on which country you’re in, the different colours (black, red, yellow, white) refer either to how long the coffee is left to dry, or how much fruit/‘mucilage’ is left on the bean. The ‘honey’ part refers to the sticky fruit residue itself.

“Will you remember all that?” coffee man asked. “Are you good at remembering detail?”

I confessed that I am pretty good at remembering Facts ’n’ Trivia.

“I’m terrible,” he said. “{Thingy} from the bakery stall taught me a cool word earlier and I’ve already forgotten it. It means ‘the warmth of the winter sun’.”

He beckoned {Thingy} over to shine a light upon that jewel of a word.

“{Thingy}! That word. I’ve forgotten it. What was it?!”

“You’re great at remembering names,” said {Thingy}, “I’m better on words.”

“I’m just the same,” said I - for proof of which, do note that I can reproduce this conversation practically verbatim, except that I cannot remember {Thingy}’s name!!

APRICITY,” recited {Thingy}. “The warmth of the winter sun.”

“Will you remember that?” asked coffee man.

“I should think so,” I said.

In return for APRICITY, I gave {Thingy} PETRICHOR - which of course means ‘the scent of rain upon dry earth’.

Buoyed by the general climate of wordlust, {Thingy} supplied another good ’un: ONOMATOMANIA, obsession with a particular word, or the feeling you get when a specific word escapes you (maddening, maddening indeed!).

I hastened away then as it was time to go and sell books.

It has become one of my regular tasks at the shop to write/draw things on our A-board. The idea is to write upon it afresh every week or two, to draw the eye of passers by in some manner or other. I cannot say that I draw well, but (this is crucial) I am willing to have a go, and can usually think of something to put on the board. Therefore, the job is mine. Today the manager asked me to refresh the thing and Interesting Words seemed like a reasonable bet - so, with thanks to coffee man and {Thingy}, I inscribed it thusly:

Side One:

Side Two:


One last semantic bagatelle. File this one under ‘Clearly I am an awful person’ episode no. 987.

Advertising is an art whose success is very vulnerable to rogue subtext. One recent evening when the David and I were sitting watching television, we saw an advert for a product called ‘Emma, the British Mattress’.

I suppose our household must have a pretty low standard of humour, but honestly… It was the earnest, unironic, guileless tone that did it - we looked at each other and Laughed.

“Oh dear. They didn’t think that one through, did they?” I pronounced. “What next - ‘Tina, the British Bike’?!”

Emma is a very popular name. The mattress company may have felt they were appealing to the vast majority of potential British mattress-buyers, practically all of whom will have a friend or loved one named Emma. Now that, they probably thought, is a nice approachable fuss-free name. Unfortunately, they may in fact have embarrassed Emmas everywhere into shunning their wares, no matter how comfy they may be. Indeed, “Last night I lay on top of Emma” makes a fine opening for a personal diary entry or ribald folk song, but as a testimonial for your quality British-made product it inspires naught but mirth and trombone-noises.

On which unsophisticated note, I shall sidle abashedly away, conscious of having lowered the tone. Wilt thou forgive me?! I do hope so. <3

Date: Thursday, 16 February 2017 21:43 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Wow, what great words! I especially like apricity, which my spell check tried to change to apricot. :P

Date: Monday, 20 February 2017 11:55 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I just got curious and looked up apricot, and it seems it may be etymologically related to apricity (from Latin apricum, 'sunny place') - but also lots of other words, including Arabic al-barqūq, 'plums'.

...And here's the random factoid of the day - these days we say apricot but apparently the word used to be 'apricock' or 'abrecock'! Surprise your produce-vendor by asking for one of those. ;-)

Date: Monday, 20 February 2017 16:32 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Hmm, that is very interesting. I will have to ask for a apricock the next time I'm at the store.

Date: Saturday, 4 March 2017 22:59 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Perhaps there should be a word market, where people can freely exchange rare and exotic words. Perhaps there would even be cloaked villains wandering around in the rain, looking to sell their illicit words on the black market, no doubt anatomical or otherwise biological. The stall could have all the words written out, but you have to pay to find out the meaning. "How much for tarradiddle, love?", or "I'll trade you graveolent for clapperdudgeon"... "Sorry mate, got three graveolents this week already, got any merdivorous?"

Date: Tuesday, 7 March 2017 16:35 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I bet there'd be Dictionary Snobs: "Which one are you using? I won't pay for any old rubbishy definitions! It's the OED or nothing!" And doubtless stalls specialising in certain types of word. I bet insults would be popular.

Other than taradiddle, that selection of choice specimens was new to me! Er, and most suitable for lurking with evil intent down by the sewerage plant.

Date: Sunday, 12 March 2017 15:13 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Ah yes, and doubtless unscrupulous word dealers who cut their Oxford definitions with phrases taken from The Sun, leading to a spate of deaths due to acute embarrassment.


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