Wednesday, 28 December 2016


When I started this blog I mentioned in my Welcome message that I love playing with words. I like the sound of some of them. I like the way some of them feel in my mouth, though I cannot explain why. Maybe it's the punch they pack -- like sockdolager. Maybe it's the easy rolling shape of them in my mouth, like onomatopoeia...not to mention the nature of onomatopoeic words themselves -- burble, spike and scrunch, for example. The visceral delight that some people find in numbers or in rhythm or in science, I find in words and sentences and the ideas they convey.

Not wanting to say a complete good-bye to some really great words from the last two years, I decided to re-post two of my favourite words: larruping (exceedingly) and sockdolager (decisive reply). For example: She made one larruping sockdolager of a come-back!

May you have a larruping good year! Happy 2017!

Monday, 19 December 2016

Writing can start any time....

"I was a late bloomer. But anyone who blooms at all, ever, is very lucky." -- Sharon Olds 

This is true for me, too. I've loved reading and writing for as long as I can remember, but I didn't write my first book until I was 47. I am a lucky late bloomer, indeed!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016



One of my brothers suggested that I look into this word. Given that we know about henchmen, we both wondered if one can hench? What might henching be?

Turns out that this somewhat derogatory word for a criminal's faithful follower comes from the Middle English word, hengest (a male horse) + man. The word henchman fell into disuse in England but was kept in Scotland as "the personal attendant of a Highland chief." Then in the early 1800s the word took on the sense of an obedient, unscrupulous fellow. This negative sense was probably a misunderstanding and a gradual changing of the word, as happens in every language and every time.

So, horses or no horses, if you're up to no good, you might just want to take on a henchman. I understand that they're very loyal.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Hmmm...Something to Think About

Write the kind of story you would like to read. People will give you all sorts of advice about writing, but if you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either.  -- Meg Cabot

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


pogono..... what?!

The following three words come from the Greek word for beard: pogon. So, depending on your preference, you experience either pogonophobia - a fear of beards or pogonophylia - a love of beards. If you love them, you're a pogonophile.

Whatever your preference, I hope you've done something to remember Movember, because Movember beards are beards with a purpose!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016


As November rolls along, I thought it would be interesting to post some of the unusual names for facial hair. This is not a complete list, by any means, but these are some of the interesting names, in my opinion: Balbo, Chin curtain, Goat patch, Horseshoe, Muttonchops, Pencil, Shenandoah, Toothbrush, Walrus, and Zappa

Please keep the purpose of #Movember in mind
this week -- to raise awareness about and money for men's health, especially cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

Please consider donating to my Movember page at I hope to raise $200 to help out.

I thank you, and so might some man you care about.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016



My tribute to Movember continues with a peek at history and another style of facial hair-- sideburns.

Sideburns were named after Ambrose Burnside (1824 – 1881), who was an American soldier, railroad executive, inventor, industrialist, and politician. From the photographs I have seen, he sported this unique style throughout his life. The original term was "burnsides," but eventually the term was flipped to our present day "sideburns."

Sideburns have come and gone in men's fashion. I have to say that I hope Burnside's sideburns do not make a comeback. What do you think?

Wednesday, 2 November 2016



This cool portmanteau word was coined to encourage people to grow a moustache and support the movement in November. The aim of Movember is to raise money for and awareness of men's health issues, especially testicular and prostate cancer, poor mental health, and suicide prevention.

Grow a moustache. Learn more about Movember at

You can also donate to my Movember fundraising campaign at

I thank you, and so do the men I care well as the ones I'll never meet.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Nobody Told Me Writing Could Be So Hard!

Sometimes when I'm writing it can be very hard to make decisions. I want to walk away, go do laundry...almost anything except decide what this character would do now or where to go with a scene. My stomach and jaw clench. Then I remember to breathe.

Sometimes I take a break and find I can get back to the work and have or find a solution. Sometimes I just have to push on through (without too much force, which doesn't help anything) and make the decision. I can always change my mind.

Writing is re-writing. Thank goodness for that.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016


This ancient cabalistic word was believed to ward off ague, which is a recurring fever accompanied by bouts of chills and sweating, and flux, which is the discharge of large amounts of a fluid from a cavity or surface of the body. Charming terms, both.
Abracadabra might be most welcome if it could bring any relief from such nasty conditions!

The power of the word was invoked when it was printed in this arrangement on paper and then worn around the neck. 

It's easy to see how such a word found its way into other examples of magic and magical thinking throughout the ages.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016


Halloween has a checkered history which I'm not going to get into here since that information is so easily found and generally known. However, in addition to giving us all a chance to adopt inventive personas, Halloween offers the opportunity to use some really great words, words that use onomatopoeia and, thereby, invite you to growl and grind out other guttural sounds...all of which are pretty Halloween-ish.
Here are a few great onomatopoeic Halloween words to help get you in the mood:


Wednesday, 12 October 2016



This late Middle English comes from the Latin word, gratus -‘pleasing, thankful.’ It is related to our modern words: gratis, grateful, gratuitous, gratify, gracious, ingrate, ingratiate...I'm sure I've missed a few.

But in any language, at any time, Gratitude is a SuperPower! So said my friend, Jimi Sidlar, and I think he was absolutely right about that.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016


This 1850-1855s word means to avoid toll roads (turnpikes) in order to save money or take a more relaxed scenic route. I'm thinking that Robert Frost must have shunpiked, since he knew all about The Road Less Traveled.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Orange Shirt Day

Today is Orange Shirt Day, a day set aside in 2013 to commemorate Indian Residential Schools and those who attended them. Orange Shirt Day can also serve as another tool to further the work of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I invite you to read this article submitted to Facebook by Nancy Cooper of Toronto:

September 30th has been declared Orange Shirt Day annually, in recognition of the harm the residential school system did to children's sense of self-esteem and well-being, and as an affirmation of our commitment to ensure that everyone around us matters.
Long Description
Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in May 2013. This project was the vision of Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins, who is a former student himself. It brought together former students and their families from the Secwepemc, Tsilhqot’in, Southern Dakelh and St’at’imc Nations along with the Cariboo Regional District, the Mayors and municipalities, School Districts and civic organizations in the Cariboo Region.
The events were designed to commemorate the residential school experience, to witness and honour the healing journey of the survivors and their families, and to commit to the ongoing process of reconciliation. Chief Justice Murray Sinclair challenged all of the participants to keep the reconciliation process alive.
Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of this project. As spokesperson for the Reunion group leading up to the events, former student Phyllis (Jack) Webstad told her story of her first day at residential school when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl, and we came to the realization that all survivors had similar stories.
The annual Orange Shirt Day on September 30th opens the door to global conversation on all aspects of Residential Schools. It is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind: a discussion all Canadians can tune into and create bridges with each other for reconciliation. Orange Shirt Day is a day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected. Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on!
The date was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. It is an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come.
It all started right here in the Cariboo, and as a result, Cariboo Chilcotin School District No. 27 has been chosen by the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) to pilot curriculum changes for all Grade 5 and Grade 10 students reflecting the residential school experience, to be implemented province-wide.
Resolutions have been passed in support of Orange Shirt Day by local governments, school districts, and First Nations in the Cariboo and beyond. Most recently the AFN Chiefs-in-Council passed a resolution declaring Orange Shirt Day “a first step in reconciliation”, and pledging to bring the message home as well as to the government of Canada and the churches responsible.
On this day of September 30th, we call upon humanity to listen with open hearts to the stories of survivors and their families, and to remember those that didn’t make it.
We encourage all to post pictures of your event or activity, share your story, or simply enjoy others sharing theirs.
Two videos on the St. Joseph Mission activities held in Williams Lake.
Phyllis’s Story:
The Commemoration Project:

Wednesday, 28 September 2016



The Muses get credit for inspiration & also the words: amuse, music & museum - which was originally a place in which  to worship them. Some say there were three muses, while others say there were nine. Whatever the number I like this painting of them cavorting to Apollo's lyre. Does anyone know the artist? I can't find it.

The Nine Muses were: Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomeni, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, Ourania and Calliope.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016


Whether you put on running shoes, sneakers, runners, gym shoes, cross-trainers, sneaks, tennis shoes or high-tops, or you go barefoot or wheel your way the Terry Fox Run this Sunday, September 14.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016


Around 1905 a nutritionist by the name of Horace Fletcher strongly urged people to chew their food well to build good health. He so enthusiastically and regularly advised this that his name became synonymous with thorough chewing...and the expression, "to Fletcherize" your food was born. 

Today, parents could be telling their children to Fletcherize....but I don't think too many do.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016



Moms often tell their kids to Fletcherize. Well, maybe they just say, "Chew your food slowly."

The term comes from the name of Horace Fletcher, an American nutritionist in the early part of the 1900s. He advocated for thoroughly chewing one's food, so the expression "to Fletcherize" was born.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016


If you work for a posh company, you might ask for an emolument.
A raise is so plebeian.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016


sockdolager - a decisive reply or blow or something very heavy. "That was some sockdolager!"

So, you're all sitting around in your new apartment after a bunch of friends have helped you move in. The four biggest people have collapsed onto the helter-skelter furniture and stare at you listlessly, eyes bugged out. One of them groans, "Do. Not. Ever. Ask us to move that #@$%$^@ sockdolager again. Not doin' it."

You've been sitting around at a meeting/party/potluck supper, feeling out of place and wondering what the heck you're doing there. Eventually you wander over to a small group and try to join in on the conversation. Things begin to improve. Someone smiles at your joke. You ask someone a question and get an animated reply. Better, better. You start to feel more comfortable and then someone asks you a tough question. You pause for a microsecond...and BANG! You deliver a perfect sockdolager, and the whole bunch grins and claps you on the back! Suddenly, you're a superhero.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016


Given that the Olympics are on, I thought I'd play with the word "sport." It's a versatile word. You probably don't care what part of speech each use is, so I won't torment you with that.
However, whether you know the parts of speech or not, you can:
  • play or be a sport.
  • sport a mustache or a fancy coat
  • wear sport clothes or go sport fishing
  • make sport with another person (make fun of or tease)
  • sport (frolic or gambol) if you're a child or animal.

And, if you're a British university student, you can sport your oak, which means that you keep your door closed to indicate that you don't want visitors.

So with all of that you have a sporting good chance of sporting your new vocabulary at the next party.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016


prodnose - an inquisitive or nosey person.

This interesting little term comes from a long-running column by John Cameron Andrieu Bingham Michael Morton, though he preferred to be called J. B. Morton. Who wouldn't, with a handle like that? Anyway, Morton wrote his column for the Daily Express from 1924 to 1975; it was called By the Way, and Morton wrote it under the pen name "Beachcomber." One of the characters in the column was a detective by the name of Prodnose -- a man who prodded his nose into other people's business.
The name became a noun and a verb:
"Lee was a prodnose who prodnosed into the conversation."
Sadly, prodnosing is an equal-opportunity, gender neutral activity.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


Wandering in the clouds; moving through the air. Thanks to Helene Pawlikowski for this great old word! I am more than over the moon about it...I am nubivagant!

Just as with clothing fashions, language fashions change. This is part of what makes language so interesting and fun.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016


abdabs - Don't gimme the old abdabs!

This is a 20th Century word for enraged frustration or delirium tremens. It seems that during World War II abdabs also meant, "afters," which meant after dessert. The origin of the expression is unclear.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016


Sometimes when I'm typing I make a typing mistake that is entertaining and, potentially, useful in my campaign to have fun with language. Here's one that made its way into my accidental lexicon: bother-in-law – no explanation needed.

I'm lucky this doesn't apply to any of my brothers-in-law!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016


carcuss - I made up this definition: less severe than road rage, but can still lead to accidents.

Then I found this definition posted on The act of cussing out your broken down piece of s**t car on the side of the road.

Either way, carcussing is not going to help you get home.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


smaragdine is a strange word I recently learned, and it's another word for emerald green. Since it's spring it seemed like a good time to think green: chartreuse, forest, lime, electric, kelly,… What others do you know?

Wednesday, 25 May 2016


I like made up family names. 
I don't think I made up this one for my brother and his wife, but it's a good one: Bill & Hilde = Bilde. Other family name combos are: Owen, Angie & Julia = Owangia. Graham & Amanda = Gramanda. Try it! It's fun to come up with combinations that flow off the tongue with ease.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016


zeugma - using a word with others so that it has a different sense with each one.

Here's a famous use of zeugma by Groucho Marx in Duck Soup (1933): "You can leave in a taxi. If you can't get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff."

Wednesday, 4 May 2016


muffkies: what you get when you bake just a bit of muffin batter or cookie dough in muffin tins

These blueberry muffkies are delicious, and while they were baking I had even more fun playing with words. Actually, I can't help myself.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


This word comes from the Greek "aporos," impassable. In modern times the word means that one is speechless or at a loss for words.

Twice in my life I have suffered from lengthy, stunned aporia. The first was years ago after seeing the movie "Sophie's Choice." I could only imagine the rocking, wrenching despair of being forced into such a terrible, terrible choice. I could not speak, couldn't make sense of the seemingly meaningless trivialities of the world around me.

The second time came just a few years ago during and after a visit to the grounds of the Indian Residential School in Spanish, Ontario. I walked around those now-empty fields, hearing the voices of the children crying and moaning. I pictured them in their forced confinement, their loneliness and terror, felt the agony of their parents as they, too, were forced into terrible choices. I cried, hoping that somehow, someone had at least been kind to those children.

We cannot change the past, but we can make a different present. Moments of power are transformative, if we let them be.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016


Earth Day = Environment + Animals + Reduce + Trees + Humans ++ Decisions + Awareness + You

Wednesday, 13 April 2016


sprinter = spring + winter. This is a portmanteau word I made up for the crazy weather at this time of year. Besides, if most of us could, we'd "sprint" away from this confusing blend of spring & winter. Thanks to my friend Stephanie for this great photo that says it all.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016


Of all the many kinds of humour I know, word-play humour is my favourite. Not a big surprise, if you know me.

It takes brains to come up with a catchy little play on words -- and apparently different parts of the brain than those that are responsible for other types of humour. I know myself well enough by now to know that I'm not going to investigate that very deeply. Suffice it to say that I appreciate a good word-related one-liner or switcheroo.

And, so, here are two wordy chuckles I've come across that might just lighten your day:
A boiled egg is hard to beat. 
When you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall. 
Folks are clever in quiet little ways.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016


muliebrity -- This word is pronounced myoo-lee-eb-ri-tee and means "womanhood" or "femininity."

According to, "Muliebrity has been used in English to suggest the distinguishing character or qualities of a woman or of womankind since the 16th century. (Its masculine counterpart, 'virility,' entered the language at about the same time.) 'Muliebrity' comes from Latin mulier, meaning 'woman,' and probably is a cognate of Latin mollis, meaning 'soft.' 'Mollis' is also the source of the English verb 'mollify'-a word that implies a 'softening' of hurt feelings or anger."

I wonder why muliebrity has fallen out of use, as have the other words I featured this month – sistren, maritorious, misandry and sororal? Is the question important? What do such changes say about people's lives through time? Since language does certainly reflect what we experience, value and talk about, what does the general disappearance of these words say about English speakers, at least?

One of the things I enjoy about language is its flexibility. It is a vital tool we humans use to strengthen and deepen two of our primal needs – to belong and, through belonging, to survive. Therefore, words and expressions move into common use because they fit (and shape) the attitudes and experiences of a given time and place. They move out of common use because they do so less and less.

And, so, my March exploration into mostly defunct English words relating to women has been interesting to me because it has raised a few questions and has also brought to my attention some of my own reactions to these words and their almost total disappearance. Writing about these words has also reminded me that I am in control of the words I use and the thinking and beliefs from which they arise.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016



Here is another post in honour of International Women's Day on March 8. Through this whole month I'm taking a look at the English language as it reflects, supports and squelches women's perspectives.

The words sistren and brethren were both common in the 12th to 15th centuries, but by the middle 16th century sistren had fallen out of use. "Sisters" and "brothers" are more common today, but sistren might still be used to convey and foster the same sense of belonging-ness that brethren can convey.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016


Uxorious: "excessively or obsessively fond of your wife," from the Latin word, uxor, wife. Its opposite, maritorious, comes from the Latin word maritus, husband, but is extremely rare. It appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary only twice between 1607 and 1978.

Language reflects and shapes daily life. Have so few women been excessively, obsessively fond of their husbands, or is their experience so discounted that, once again, words that express it are not normalized? Is something else at play here? Possibilities abound...

A comedian (or comedienne, I suppose, if there were actually any good reason to distinguish between female and male funny people) could make quick work of this little question.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016


During the month of March, in honour of International Women's Day on March 8, I am posting words and expressions related to the lives of women and girls. Expand your vocabulary, expand your mind.

misandry: This very rare word means sexual discrimination against and hatred, denigration and sexual objectification of men. It is the opposite of "misogyny," which expresses the same attitudes and actions towards women. Not being big on hatred towards anyone, still I think it's interesting, unfortunate and sadly unsurprising that we have a common word for such attitudes and actions against women but no equally common word aimed at men.

How intriguing...or something...that although I have known women who hate/greatly dislike/have trouble trusting men in general, the English language has only this virtually unknown word to represent the denigration of men. Do some women denigrate, hate and sexually discriminate against men? Of course. Is the word misandry so rare because women are more equality-minded than men? More aware? I'm not touching those questions with a ten-foot pole.

However, I am sure that women's experiences of abuse, denigration and objectification are so common around the world and through time that their human reaction against the males who enact such treatment is not expressed – rightly or wrongly – in the English language. Well, I suppose you could say that okay, thank you and yes are common words that women are so often taught to say, but that's obviously not what I'm talking about.

We absolutely do not need another word for hatred, but I do believe it's important to become aware of how our language represents and validates our thinking.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016


In honour of International Women's Day, which is March 8, all of my #WordWednesday posts this month will be words about women and girls. Many words in common use today are male-oriented, which is not surprising, given the male-dominated history of the human race. The thing is that we (me included) often don't know the words that refer to females.

To be clear -- I do not hate men. I rather like them. My many male family members, friends and colleagues are great guys. The point here is not to use language as a weapon against some group (males) but, rather, to better acknowledge and understand the perspective of another (females). Since language is such a crucial and integral part of how humans experience life, value can be derived from exploring language more deeply. 

So, this week's #WordWednesday is sororal, the female equivalent of fraternal. The word "sororal" comes from the mid-17th century Latin word soror, meaning "sister."

Unidentical twins are often called fraternal, but if both twins are girls, they can be called sororal twins. So: Sue & Jane are sororal twins. Have you ever heard of sororal twins? I sure hadn't before I stumbled over it yesterday. And as I type this paragraph I'm disappointed to notice that my online dictionary hasn't, either. It places its little red squiggles under "sororal" -- another indicator of this word's obscurity.
Another case in point: my hardcover Oxford English Dictionary contains the following words in this family of word cousins:
  • sorority -- fraternity
  • nothing -- fraternal
  • nothing -- fraternize
  • nothing -- fratricide, which is defined as "the killing of one's brother or sister" (italics mine)
 My hard cover Funk & Wagnall's Canadian College Dictionary does better:
  • sorority -- fraternity
  • sororate -- nothing (sororate: "the marriage of a man with the sister or sisters of his wife")
  • sororicide -- fratricide
  • sorosis -- nothing (sorosis: "a woman's club or society")
 Draw your own conclusions. I just think it's interesting, and since I love words, I'll now be open to ways to use soror word cousins when I can.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016


frenemy: someone who acts like a friend but is really an enemy. Frenemy is a word-cousin to passive-aggressive. It can be hard to know where you stand and what to expect with a frenemy.   

Wednesday, 17 February 2016


Word play, word play, word about these documentary spin-offs:

shockumentary -- for all the news to knock your socks off

mockumentary -- nasty little pieces of "journalism"

frockumentary -- you guessed it -- extensive coverage of the fashion industry

jockumentary -- coverage of men's sporting life

rockumentary -- ditto for rock musicians

schlockumentary -- pointless waste of everyone's time

Wednesday, 10 February 2016


This is a formal term for weekly, especially a weekly meeting. I just came across it and liked it. Some words just feel neat in my mouth. 

I also like "Tom Bombadil" and "mushkamut," an Ojibwe word for "bag," and "albondigas," the Spanish word for meatballs. When I started to learn Spanish in Grade 6, the first sentence I remember learning was "¿Dondé está el albondigas?" Where are the meatballs? I think it's that experience that helped launch me on my conscious enjoyment of language. What a crazy first sentence to learn in any language! So we had a laugh, and for some reason I noticed the feel of those Spanish words in my mouth. It was a light, delightful feeling. The enjoyment has never gone away.

Have you ever thought about the way a word or phrase feels in your mouth? Give it a try. Notice what it is about certain expressions that make you smile. Maybe invite Tom Bombadil to your hebdomadal meeting and have some albondigas.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016


gruncle: After I posted "drunkle" last month in one of my WordWednesdays, a friend told me about her family's word for a great uncle. I add graunty, grephew & griece....? 

Play with language!! Have some fun! 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

#WordWednesday...continued on Thursday :-)

Thanks for playing on Facebook, people!

Here's my complete, geeky, dictionary-lovin' list of H-? rhymes:
heebie-jeebies, hokey-pokey, hanky-panky, harum-scarum, hoity-toity, helter-skelter, hocus-pocus, hurdy-gurdy, holus-bolus, hugger-mugger, hubble-bubble, humpty-dumpty, hum-drum, hub-bub, hurry-scurry, hotch-potch, higgledy-piggledy, hubba-hubba

PLUS some of the great ones suggested by you:
holy-moly, hari-kari, hippy-dippy, holly-jolly, hubba-bubba and so on.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016


Here are 5 out of of 19 H-? rhymes:
heebie-jeebies, hokey-pokey, hanky-panky, harum-scarum, hoity-toity. Do you know 14 more? They have to be in a dictionary. 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Today's post is a tribute to my mother. She deserves it because, in addition to baking great cookies and driving us to school on rainy days, she taught my brothers and me to speak correctly. (And, yes, it is “my brothers and me,” not “my brothers and I.”) Of course, every time she corrected our grammar, we felt like we’d die of boredom. She was so predictable. My eyes rolled heavenward so often, it’s a wonder I can see at all. 

However, I did learn to be aware of language and began to play with words. In Grade 7, my friend, Jack, and I would look for cool words in the dictionary during English class – mostly dirty words and swear words. But as we giggled and blushed, we also discovered other weird and wonderful words in there. Besides, if the teacher came to check on us, we could smile angelically and truthfully say that we were just looking something up. I don’t suppose we fooled her, but we had fun and probably learned more than we cared to admit. 

Today I have no trouble confessing how much I enjoy words – their origins, the way they sound, the way some of them feel in my mouth and throat. I love the pleasure of finding the precise word and rhythm, of creating or re-shaping them to fit my need. Another pleasure is discovering and musing about the history of a word or expression.

I should make it clear that I am not a professional lexicologist; that is, I don,t have formal training in “the form, history and meaning of words.” (Oxford English Reference Dictionary) However, I am an amateur one – a wordster, as it were. I made up that word to mean “a woman who is occupied or engaged with words.” If I were a man, I might call myself a “worder,” because up until about the 10th century, adding the suffix –ster to the end of a word changed it from the masculine form to the feminine. So a male weaver was called a webber, while his wife was a webster. A male baker’s sister was called a bakster. Eventually, many of these gender distinctions disappeared in English.

What doesn’t disappear from the English, or any language, is change. Words come and go, expressions are modified to serve a particular purpose at a particular time. A perfect case in point is “my” word, “wordster.” I genuinely thought I’d made it up, but I googled it (another new word) just to be sure, and there it was, though I no longer hope it applies to me! According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, a wordster is one who is "adept in the use of words, especially in an empty and bombastic manner." Hmmmm....

So very little is certain in the language game – which just makes it all the more interesting and, in my opinion, a walloping “wordventure.”

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


Soup is so great in January. Did you know that soup was "fast food" in Greece in 600 B.C.? The Germanic origin of the word: bread soaked in broth was called "sop." So, now we sop up gravy & eat soup. Yummmmm.....

Wednesday, 6 January 2016


drunkle - your aunt's husband who drinks too much & too often. Coined by a young man who shall remain nameless.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Think You Don't Have a Creative Bone in Your Body?

In many writing courses and workshops I teach, I give my students creative writing exercises to get them going. Over the years I've heard several variations of the statement, "I don't have a creative bone in my body."
  • I'm not creative.
  • I don't know what to write.
  • My writing is always boring.
  • I don't have any good ideas.
  • I'm no good at this.
  • I can't tell a good story.
Here are some of my responses to those statements:
  • Hogwash.
  • Yes, you do, even if you don't recognize your ideas as worthwhile.
  • I doubt it.
  • That's old thinking.
  • Everybody's creative, even if they don't know it.
  • ...etc., etc. You get the idea.
What might it mean when people say they're not creative? It might mean any number of things. Maybe they were laughed at for some creative effort(s) in the past. Maybe they don't like a particular type of creative activity and don't recognize that not liking something isn't the same as being unable to do it. Perhaps they believe that if they don't excel at an activity, they shouldn't do it at all.

Maybe this sounds like you. Do you think you can't write a story or paint or act or whittle or sing? Do you believe you don't have a creative bone in your body?

Well, consider these ideas:
  • Are you a person who comes up with great party ideas?
  • Do you come out with funny one-liners or puns, or do you tell jokes really well?
  • Can you come up with options or solutions for nagging problems?
  • Do you hum or sing while doing some other activity?
  • Are you good at keeping the beat with songs on the radio?
  • Was there an activity you loved when you were a child?
  • Do you cook well or do carpentry?
  • Do you enjoy a hobby?
  • Can you tell stories to children that they enjoy?
  • Do your neighbours compliment you on your garden or yard?
  • Are you able to find the best arrangement of time or objects in order to get a job done well?
  • Do you find yourself wondering how the writer came up with the idea for a movie or book you like?
  • Is there one time of day when you seem to get a lot of good ideas?
  • Do you like arranging food, flowers, furniture, artwork, or table settings in pleasing ways?
  • Can you fix just about anything that needs fixing?
  • Are you good at solving puzzles?
  • Can you find the best/shortest/most scenic route to a destination?
This is a very short list of examples of creative expression. Maybe this list has given you other ideas about what you do well but never considered as meaning much. That's often the case with people who believe they're not creative.

Keep in mind that being creative simply means "having the power or ability to create...and is...characterized by originality of thought and execution." (Funk & Wagnalls' Canadian College Dictionary). Every single person can create something or come up with an original idea. Really. Creativity is not a special gift doled out only to a select few. It is a natural part of being human.

You are creative, even if you're haven't been given a Nobel Prize for Something or aren't published or famous. You are creative because you're alive and it's in your nature to create.

I encourage you to take a look at your attitudes about your own creative ability or that of someone else you've said isn't creative. What words and feelings go along with that limiting belief?  How can you change your words and thoughts and feelings to allow for a new concept? Do you expect phenomenal results, or can you see that creativity is a process to be enjoyed?

If you like, try the following:

Every day for two weeks, write or say to yourself,
I am creative. I like to __________ (fill in the blank), and this is a creative activity.

It's very possible that your ideas about creativity will shift. Then go ahead, do your creative activity some more. Allow yourself to enjoy it simply because you enjoy it. It doesn't have to measure up to anybody else's idea of "good." If you want to, expand on it, share it. Learn something new.

Creativity is fun and satisfying. I hope you allow yours to blossom.