Gokotta

The early bird gets it. No, not the worm (but maybe that, too). He gets the meaning of gokotta, and so do the campers and glampers in your life, the early-morning joggers, and the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed toddlers. (What? Your toddlers don’t have tails? Weird.)

(n.) lit. “early cuckoo morning”; the act of rising early in the morning to hear the birds sing. An at-dawn picnic. Appreciating nature and the sunrise.

Pronounced: zyohh-KOH-tah.
Origin: Swedish (there is no real English substitute).

424px-Fringilla_coelebs_chaffinch_male_edit2

Photo by Michael Maggs via Wikimedia Commons.

So, instead of hitting snooze for the third time next weekend, set your programmable coffeemaker for an earlier hour than usual, pull on some flannel, and go sit outside. See who else is up. Listen.

Oh, and don’t forget the picnic part. Wakey, wakey, eggs and bac-y.

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Balter

While you may or may not be guilty of this egregious and oh-so-grievous sin, you probably have been in close proximity to one who has.

So close.

So very, very close.

Close enough for them to step on your sore feet, willy-nilly.

BALTER

intransitive verb

archaic

  1. :  to dance or tread clumsily

Photo by Tomascastelazo via Wikimedia Commons.

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nemophilist

Are you one? A nemophilist, that is?

I suspect you are.

No, it’s not a lover of the little fish from the Pixar film, though we like him, too.

Photo by zannaland via Wikimedia Commons.

Here’s a hint:

photo by Jason Sturner – Rockefeller Forest, Humboldt Redwoods State Park – Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) via Wikimedia Commons

nemophilist

Ne`moph´i`list

NOUN

  • A person who loves or is fond of woods or forests.

Origin

Mid 19th century; earliest use found in The Atlantic Monthly.

Ah ha! A lover of woods and forests. Fireplace smoke, pinecones, needle-coated hiking trails, shady glens, and majestic firs … what’s not to love?

Hi, my name’s MaryJane, and I’m a nemophilist.

There is no cure.

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Hobbledehoy

Was your first love one of these? Have you ever found yourself crushing on one when you yourself were just a girl?

Hobbledehoy

Pronunciation: hobuh l-dee-hoi

n. “clumsy, ungainly, or awkward youth”

1530s, of uncertain origin. First element is probably hob in its sense of “clown, prankster” (hobgoblin), the second element perhaps is Middle French de haye “worthless, untamed, wild,” literally “of the hedge.”

Image by State Library of New South Wales Collection via Wikimedia Commons.

There’s something inherently loveable about a hobbledehoy, isn’t there?

After all, wasn’t Gilbert Blythe a bit of a hobbledehoy when he first met Anne with an E?

Probably all the great tall, dark, and handsome figures in our daydreams were clumsy, perpetually awkward youths … once upon a time.

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Wacky Words

For most of us, the process of learning English happened at a time of life when we weren’t as inclined to question the rationale behind unreasonable (and sometimes ridiculous) spellings.

But, consider the task of trying your tongue at English as an outsider, whether tourist or immigrant.

Here’s a simple sentence to put it in perspective:

“I would like to buy a certain fruit for my recipe.”

Easy for you to read, right?

Now, read through it as someone who may know the basic RULES of English, but doesn’t yet grasp the commonly accepted American notion of tossing all of those rules out the window …

“I wooled like to bu-yee a kertane froo-it for my re-sipe.”

Something like that, anyway.

photo by Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons

While it’s tough not to chuckle, you can see how utterly frustrating it must be to decipher the everyday dialog we take for granted.

“While there are clear trends in words non-native speakers mispronounce (due to irregularities in English spelling), words that are in principle hard to pronounce depend much more heavily on each individual speaker’s linguistic background,” explains Czech linguist and mathematician Jakub Marian, author of Most Common Mistakes in English. “Words containing an ‘h’ (as in ‘hello’) are difficult to pronounce for native speakers of romance languages and Russian, since there is no ‘h’-sound in their mother tongues. Words containing a ‘th’-sound (either as in ‘think’ or as in that’) are hard for almost everybody apart from Spaniards and Greeks, whose languages are two of the few that contain those sounds.”

Now that your word wheels are spinning with this new perspective, try a few more words that Marian and many others deem difficult for non-native speakers:

  • Anemone
  • Colonel
  • Comfortable
  • Drawer
  • Fruit
  • Height
  • Isthmus
  • Lettuce
  • Recipe
  • Rural
  • Sixth
  • Squirrel

P.S. Allow me to punctuate this post with a poem called “The Chaos” by Gerard Nolst Trenité in 1922. It brilliantly boasts hundreds of peculiar English pronunciations.

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Cafune

Samson might inspire this in you, ladies … or Fabio. Possibly Jennifer Aniston … or Carrot Top. Marge Simpson, definitely. Crystal Gale? For sure.

book cover by Katalin Szegedi via Wikimedia Commons

Cafune

What is it? By now, you’ve figured out it’s something to do with the follicles atop one’s head. Specifically,

(n.) running your fingers through the hair of someone you love.
Pronunciation: ka-FOO-nay

So, it begs the question, do balding men inspire the same kind of odd behavior in those of us smitten with them? If we can’t run our fingers through the hairs of our beloveds, will a nice rub or caress do the trick?

Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.

Someone get Mrs. Bruce Willis on the phone. Tell her it’s an emergency of the cafune type.

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sockdologer

sockdologer

One who dabbles in … er, sock collecting?

One who loves socks a bit too much?

Photo by Shuminweb via Wikimedia Commons.

noun, Older Slang.

  1. something unusually large, heavy, etc.
  2. a decisive reply, argument, etc.
  3. a heavy, finishing blow:

Example: His right jab is a real sockdolager.

In other words, it’s a real doozy of a closing argument, getting the last word, or in today’s slang, a mic drop.

Lest we find ourselves giggling too much at our funny-sounding new word, let me bring you some sorrowful solemnity: sockdologising likely was nearly the last word President Abraham Lincoln ever heard. During the performance of Tom Taylor’s “Our American Cousin,” assassin John Wilkes Booth (who knew the play well) waited for the laughline,

Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, you sockdologising old mantrap!” 

Amid the noise as the audience responded in laughter and applause, Booth fired the fatal shot.

Sniffle. Well, now it’s my heart that feels unusually heavy … almost sockdolager-esque you could say.

Lincoln in ‘thinking pose’, 1862, via Wikimedia Commons

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A Women’s Prerogative

What is?

You know, to change her mind.

Or to put it another way, her metanoia.

I know, it sounds like a vitamin supplement, doesn’t it?

“Say, honey, could you pass me 500 mg of Metanoia, please?”

If only it were that easy. Change in a bottle, if you don’t mind. Take two and call me in the morning?

noun meta•noia \[met-uhnoiuh]

Origin and Etymology:
Greek, from metanoiein: to change one’s mind, repent, from meta- + noein to think, from nous mind
First Known Use: 1577

So, perhaps it’s less about switching the style of your coiffure from beehive to French twist, or your indecision over a jelly donut vs. a cheese omelet, and more of a spiritual change, a lifestyle change, almost a conversion.

Like when you switched to organic food. Or joined the Farmgirl Sisterhood. 😉

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What’s That Sillage?

What’s that smell? No, not the stuff in the silo (silage)—that distinct odor of fermenting corn or hay—but that lovely, faint, lingering scent …

sillage

Pronunciation:
[sil-ij]

(n.) the scent that lingers in air, the trail left in water, the impression made in space after something or someone has been and gone; the trace of someone’s perfume.

Origin:
French, literally, wake/trail

A poetical word, to be sure, when romancing over a love long-gone.

But perhaps you find sillage in other places and spaces …

… like when you pull up in your car to pick up your children from school and they sense the lingering aroma of the cheeseburger you wolfed down a moment earlier. Suspicion arises.

That kind of sillage … not so poetical.

Or when you move into a new house and smell the persistent bouquet of a woman’s perfume. But only at midnight. On Halloween.

Thanks to that type of sillage, you now know to pack up and move once again.

How about the sillage of your grandmother’s hand lotion, your dad’s motor oil, or the scent of a new baby’s scalp?

Only the nose knows.

Photo by Angela Andriot via Wikimedia Commons

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clinomania

clinomania

(n.) an excessive desire to stay in bed

Pronunciation: klin-oh-MAYN-nee-uh

hut-bed575W3541

If you aren’t one now, you probably were one, back in your teenage days. A clinomaniac, I mean. I’d wager there’s one in every house … if you don’t know who it is, crack open those peepers and move the covers off your face; it’s probably you.

Is clinomania a thing due to the actual sleeping part of being in bed, or is it the comfort of a nice mattress, the softness of your favorite quilt, the easy access to your nightstand TBR pile of novels, or because it’s where you get some high quality snuggling?

Who knows?

Best sleep on it.

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