paracosm

(n.) A detailed, prolonged, and imaginary world created by a child that includes humans, animals, or alien creatures. Can have a definite geography, language, and history.

pronunciation | \per-o-‘koz-m\

Illustration by Jessie Wilcox Smith via Wikimedia Commons.

Examples of paracosm:

  • Middle-earth, the highly detailed fantasy world created by J.R.R. Tolkien, as expressed in his novels The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Tolkien had been inventing languages since his teen years, only later imagining the people who spoke them or their environment.
  • Gondal, Angria, and Gaaldine, the fantasy kingdoms created and written about in childhood by Emily, Anne, and Charlotte Brontë and their brother, Branwell, and maintained well into adulthood. These kingdoms are specifically referred to as paracosms in several academic works.
  • As children, novelist C. S. Lewis and his brother, Warren, together created a paracosm called Boxen, which was in turn a combination of their respective private paracosms Animal-Land and India. Lewis later drew upon Animal-Land to create the fantasy land of Narnia, which he wrote about in The Chronicles of Narnia.
  • Hogwarts, invented by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books.
  • Terabithia, the imaginary kingdom invented by author Katherine Patterson, in her beloved novel Bridge to Terabithia.
  • Never Land, from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.
  • Wonderland, from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Well, I could go and on, but what’s your favorite paracosm? And did you have your own that followed you into adulthood?

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Scripturient

You may know one of these people. You can usually recognize them by their gnawed pencils, their ink-stained fingers, their constantly open and tap-tap-tapping laptop, and their habit of leaving parties early when inspiration strikes.

What is a scripturient exactly? Someone well-versed in religious texts? Or a playwright? Your friendly neighborhood pharmacist? A handwriting expert? Well, they too could be a scripturient, yes, but here’s the actual definition:

(adj.) having a desire or passion for writing; having a liking or itch for authorship. A nearly violent craving and/or urge to put words on paper.

(n.) one who has a passion for writing.

This isn’t just someone who dabbles in the occasional short story or poem, however. Did you see the word ‘violent’ in there? This is a serious burning and lust for storytelling, novel writing, and an addiction to one’s own scribbles.

Do you know one? Are you one? We’re willing to bet Edgar Allan Poe was a scripturient in his (tell-tale) heart.

Photo of a daguerreotype by Edwin H. Manchester via Wikimedia Commons.

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Bimble

Bimble …

No, not bumble. (Autocorrect didn’t get me this time.) It’s bimble …

As in, to bimble along.

(v.) walk or travel at a leisurely pace.

On Sunday, we bimbled around Spitalfields and Brick Lane.

(n.) a leisurely walk or journey.

We were enjoying a pleasant bimble over the rocks.

/bimbəl/

I like the Urban Dictionary’s description even better, don’t you?

“To amble without real aim, yet in a friendly and harmless manner. It’s not required to achieve nothing, though it is a frequent side effect. Bimbling can be made a little more business-like with a slight hunch of the shoulders.”

I rather think Bilbo Baggins enjoyed a good bimble, don’t you? (Now we’re getting into tongue-twisting territory.)

From The First Saint Omnibus: An Anthology of Saintly Adventures (1939), page 269:

But the Duchess starts bimbling and wambling and wimbling and threatens to wallop his ducal behind.

Wambling and wimbling? There are two more for us to learn …

Der Sonntagsspaziergang, by Albert von Keller via Wikimedia Commons

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Luddite

I confess to being one myself at times. But in my defense, learning new technologies is baffling and time-consuming. And why must everything on your laptop change once you run an update? Inquiring minds want to know.

(n.) Ludd·ite  \ ˈlə-ˌdīt \

One of a group of early 19th century English workmen destroying labor-saving machinery as a protest; one who is opposed to technological change.

The Luddites argued that automation destroys jobs. It became an entire movement—the Luddite movement—in 1811, in Nottingham, England. After machinery began to replace them, textile mill workers rioted. The name itself is likely rooted in a fictional character named Ned Ludd in George Pellew’s Life of Lord Sidmouth (1847). Poor Ned, in a fit of rage and insanity, rushed into a weaver’s house and destroyed all of the equipment.

Anyone who shuns new technologies is now considered something of a Luddite. But come on now, who among us has not had vivid daydreams of running over their misbehaving printer with a tractor? Just me? Hello?

Photo by diveuniversefest via Wikimedia Commons.

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Saudade

Saudade (soh-dah-duh) especially with reference to songs or poetry: a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia that is supposedly characteristic of the Portuguese or Brazilian temperament. An English translation of this word would best be replaced by ‘missingness.’

“Her songs are based on love poems and evoke a melancholy known to the Portuguese as saudade.”

(n.) “yearnings, saudades, those sonorous fruits grown for overripe hearts” or “the love that remains”

A Portuguese and Galician term that is a common fixture in the literature and music of Brazil, Portugal, Cape Verde, and beyond. The concept has many definitions, including a melancholy nostalgia for something that perhaps has not even happened. It often carries an assurance that this thing you feel nostalgic for will never happen again.

“A pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy.” ~ Portuguese writer Manuel de Melo.

“No matter where I wander, I’m still haunted by your name
The portrait of your beauty stays the same
Standing by the ocean wondering where you’ve gone
If you’ll return again
Where is the ring I gave to Nancy Spain?”
~ Barney Rush in his example of saudade in contemporary Irish music.

Image by Jose Ferraz de Almeida Junior via Wikimedia Commons.

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tombstone tourists

Taphophilia Origin: Ancient Greek τάφος (taphos, “funeral rites”, “burial”, “funeral”, “wake”; “tomb”, “grave”) + English -philia (from the Ancient Greek φιλία (philia), philia, “love”, “fondness”)

If wandering through cemeteries, imagining the lives of those who lay beneath the poems and quotes, and taking pictures of the tombstones is something that someone you know enjoys, s/he just might have a mild case of taphophilia. Also called a “tombstone tourist,” or a “cemeterian,” or even a “cemetery hunter,” the people afflicted with this don’t seem to suffer from it. Quite the contrary, they find walking through a cemetery to be the most peaceful of hobbies. What’s not to love? Trees, peace, quiet, maybe even a rest beneath a tree. Or perhaps the contemplation of life itself while leaning up against a … beautifully carved rock.

Glasnevin Cemetery by William Murphy via Wikimedia Commons

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Kibitzer

Host a game night for friends and you might learn who is the kibitzer in your group … gulp. (We hope it’s not you.)

“A Waterloo” by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, circa 1906, via Wikimedia Commons

noun, informal.

A spectator at a card game who looks at the players’ cards over their shoulders.

One who gives unsolicited, unappreciated advice and opinions.

A person who jokes, chitchats, or makes wisecracks, especially while others are trying to work or to discuss something serious.

Origin of kibitzer

1925-1930

From the Yiddish, dating back to 1925-30

Synonyms: meddler, busybody, snoop.

I don’t mind admitting that a good kibitzer has 20-20 hindsight.” – Alfked Sheinwold

“I’m a kibitzer with a broad portfolio.” – David Axelrod

“Victory has 1,000 fathers. Defeat has 1,000 kibitzers.” – Jeff Greenfield

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Yoisho

When was the last time you ‘yoisho’ed? I’m betting it was more recently than you think.

Like at the top of a mountain after a long hike, on a bed of clover. Or at the end of a work week that just felt like it would never end. Accountants experience it every April 16th, when tax season finally wraps up. Definitely, Santa Claus has his yoisho moments on each and every December 26th.

Yoisho

(phr.) A Japanese expression used when flopping onto a chair or bed or floor, usually after a hard day’s work, combined with a grunt or loud exhale.

Photo by unknown photographer via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s one of those nifty words that isn’t easily translated into English, but apparently, some Google-translated documents and/or books that have been translated into or from Japanese will translate our expression ‘sheesh!’ into ‘yoisho!’

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Growlery

Growlery is a word invented by Charles Dickens in his 1852 serial, Bleak House.

The author, whose work could best be described as … um, well, “Dickensian,” wrote, “This, you must know, is the growlery. When I am out of humour, I come and growl here.”

A place to turn the worst of times into the best of times.

A retreat to go to when you’re feeling out of sorts.

A place of refuge, used to get yourself out of a funk.

A den, or a lair, with which to prowl with one’s growler out. (Urban Dictionary)

What’s your personal growlery? A bathtub, filled with bubbles and a glass of wine? A windowseat with a stack of TBR novels? A pup tent in the mountains? A family dinner with everyone at home all at once for a change? An easel with new paints set up in the garden?

“A study or growlery is just as dear to a man’s heart as a boudoir is to a woman’s; and the master of the house deserves to have some corner which shall be his very own, whither he can retire when he wishes to read or work, or simply smoke and rest, or receive business visitors, blissfully undisturbed by the rest of the household.”
– Lambert’s Suburban Architecture, 1894

Man cave? But we disagree … women need a growlery, too!

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Alharaca

Don’t even pretend you’ve never experienced and/or displayed this one.

You know you have.

Probably when you were hungry (i.e. hangry = the state of being hungry and angry all at once).

Or maybe when you’ve just had “one of those days.” You know the ones: when you lose things, the dog gets out, the children get sick, the deadline looms, and you just can’t take one more thing slipping sideways on you.

What is alharaca, anyway?

(n.) an extraordinary or violent emotional reaction to something small and insignificant.

Can you say hissy-fit?

Photo by Fox Film Corporation via Wikimedia Commons.

Embarrassing as a moment of alharaca can be in hindsight, we’ve all been there. You don’t have to be Nellie Olsen, Miss Piggy, or the Queen of Hearts; even the least drama-queen-like of us farmgirls can relate.

As a wise woman once said, “Pardon me while I overreact irrationally.”

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