Merry, Merrythought!

If I had said to you at Christmas dinner, “I just had a merry thought … why don’t we have a go at the merrythought,” you’d probably think I was losing my grip.

But actually, my grip would have been gearing up to grasp at something …

on the holiday turkey.

And challenging you to a little contest with a lucky outcome …


noun, Chiefly British.

1. the wishbone or furcula of a fowl.
1600-10; so called from the custom of pulling the bone apart until it breaks, the person holding the longer piece supposedly being granted a wish … or marrying first!
Or would that be marrythought?

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August 2013 Flashback

Here’s a post worth recycling.

Give this word a whirl:


Any guesses?

Potato taster?


Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA ARS via Wikimedia Commons

Try again.

Poet … taster?


Portrait of Elizabeth Barrett Browning via Wikimedia Commons

Uhmmm, no, not that either. No eating of poets, no matter how yummy their words.

It’s actually pronounced poh-it-as-ter,

negating the whole “taster” angle.

Poetaster actually refers to

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one-word wonders

How does this photo make you feel?

Photo by Pezibear via Pixabay

Would you say it gives you a sense of ukiyo?

Whoa … what was that?

You know, ukiyo: living in the moment, detached from the bothers of life?

That’s the vibe in a nutshell, right?

Thank Japan for summing up something like “contentment mixed with whimsical nostalgia and feelings of freedom” into one perfect gem.

You probably see these sorts of one-word wonders on Pinterest all the time—obscure terms from other languages that describe feelings we Americans simply haven’t invented words to convey.

Pinning these pretties is easy as pie, but can you actually incorporate them into daily use?

Nope, me neither. But wouldn’t you like to?

How lovely would it be to describe our feelings with such concision?

Rambling not required.

Inspired, I set out to broaden our linguistic horizons a bit, to deepen our pool of descriptive vocabulary. I pulled together a little 5-word dictionary (complete with pronunciations) of words that eloquently evoke emotion.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to try to use one of these words in casual conversation each day for a week. And, of course, leave a comment to tell me how you managed to squeeze ‘em in.

Ready, set …


  1. Laotong (lao-dong), from China:

A friendship that bonds two girls together for eternity as kindred sisters.

As in: “Sally and I agreed that our serendipitous meeting on MaryJane’s Farmgirl Connection was the beginning of our laotong.”

  1. Gigil (GEE-gil), from the Philippines:

The overwhelming urge to pinch or squeeze something cute.

As in: “I was overcome with gigil at the site of the baby’s smiling cheeks.”

  1. Mudita (moo-DEE-tah), from India:

Sympathetic or unselfish joy; delight in the good fortune of others.

As in: “We all shared a deep feeling of mudita when Mom announced that she’d won a trip to a yoga retreat in India because she has always wanted to go there.”

  1. Voorpret (foor-bdet), from the Netherlands:

The sense of joyous anticipation felt before an event actually takes place.

As in: “As Daisy Jo prepared for the midsummer garden party, she could barely contain her voorpret.”

  1. Meraki (MER-a-kee), from Greece:

Soul, creativity, or love put into a project; the essence of yourself that is put into your work.

As in: “She loves to make jewelry with sea glass, and she crafts each piece with profound meraki.”






ancient (in)justice

While our modern justice system might have its problems, it’s a vast improvement from the courts of old. Today’s word,


is a perfect example.

Cephalonomancy was used in ancient times to detect the guilt of a person accused of a crime. It involved, of all things, boiling the head of an ass.


While boiling the head of the ass, the prosecutor would recite the names of possible suspects. If the skull cracked or the jaw moved when a name was spoken, that person was deemed to be guilty.

Engraving of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury, 1875