She’s a virago!


origin and etymology:

Middle English, from Latin viragin-, virago, from vir man


Plural: viragoes or viragos

  1. a loud, overbearing woman
  2. a woman of great stature, strength, and courage

Mixed messages, anyone? While once considered a compliment (one famous virago being Joan of Arc), it later became more of a slur or derogatory comment (think Taming of the Shrew’s very own shrew). Now it’s trending more towards the complimentary once again. Is there a virago in your farmgirl life?

Wonder Woman Lynda Carter, Photo by ABC Television via Wikimedia Commons.

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(v.) middle English; to rush around cleaning frantically, when company is on their way to your home. To clean briskly.

While the oldest known variations (1700s) relate more to scouring pots and pans, or even one’s children, the later variations are attributed to that panicked feeling you get when a long-lost friend calls you from a nearby rest stop, or your mother-in-law phones from the car to let you know she’s in your driveway.

Do you scurryfunge?

Image by Geertruydt Roghman via Wikimedia Commons.

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Are you being watched?

Anatidaephobia is defined as a pervasive, irrational fear that one is being watched …

by a duck.

Yep, a duck.

Maybe the most interesting thing about this one is that there are enough people that have this fear, that it actually has a name!

Photo by Francis C. Franklin via Wikimedia Commons.

Anatidaephobia is derived from the Greek word “anatidae,” meaning ducks, geese, or swans, and “phobos,” meaning fear. While it make us non-suffers giggle, anatidaephobia can be a debilitating anxiety condition, wherein, no matter what one is doing or where s/he is in the world, they feel the constant presence of a lurking and watching duck …

Stephen King, are you listening??

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(n.) Finnish; that secondhand embarrassment you feel when someone is making a fool of themselves, vicarious shame, or shame by proxy. From myötä- (“co-”) +‎ häpeä (“shame”).

For some with deep empathy, their myötähäpeä is so acute as to hide under the covers during movies or television scenes when a character is being ridiculous, or to avoid parties where certain relatives are bound to make an embarrassing entrance.

If you’ve never felt it, you probably haven’t had kids yet …

Photo by Tony Alter via Wikimedia Commons.

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(n.) The practice of responding to an accusation by making a counter-accusation, real or imaginary, relevant or irrelevant. Protesting at hypocrisy; responding to criticism by accusing one’s opponent of similar or worse faults. Protesting at inconsistency; refusing to act in one instance unless similar action is taken in other similar instances.

Sound familiar?

Image, W. Esser, Bodleian Libraries via Wikimedia Commons. Translation: “Now I have to go to Elba with my cock, calmly.”

Earliest documented use: 1974. Originally used in describing political discourse during the Northern Ireland troubles, it has also found use in discussions of the origins of other prolonged sectarian conflicts, such as the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. It was widely employed by then USSR as a propaganda technique and is now often a favorite of our current president. It is also known as whataboutism. “Turbo-charged online whataboutery is destroying proper debate.” – Helen Lewis, Nov 26, 2015

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” -Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer (1920-1992)

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(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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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 (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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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.


(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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