It’s a new age, and one of its most annoying catch phrases seems to be “Whatever!” Even though my late father-in-law, Ivan, would use the phrase, “Well, whatever …” to successfully end whatever conversation he no longer wished to participate in, today’s teenagers have taken the word to a whole new high (or low) in dismissiveness …

WhatEVER, MaryJane!

The word is so pervasive, and invasive, and dare I say downright insulting, that my granddaughters are forbidden to use it. “WhatEVER, Nanny Jane!” is a phrase I won’t likely be hearing from them any time soon (although the oldest is only 8, so we have a while before the teenage thing kicks in, when we’ll just try not to say “WhatEVER” and roll our eyes in response).

But what if I add “so” to the middle, as in “whatSOever.” Not only does that change the flavor … and feeling … of the word, it makes it into something unique … an example of the only word in the English language to begin with the letters TM: tmesis.

Tmesis [tuhmee-sis] is the insertion of one or more words between the parts of a compound word, as when “so”  is inserted into the middle of “whatever” to become “whatsoever.”

As in, “I have no patience for the word ‘whatever’ whatsoever.”

WhatEVER, MaryJane!

word quiz

“Have you heard the latest goodies from the grapevine?” Jane teased with a twinkle in her eye.

Young Woman with Hat and Grapes by Pierre van Hanselaere, 1820, via Wikimedia Commons

Sally shrugged.

Yolanda yawned.

But Nosy Nellie just had to know. She sidled up to Jane with her ears practically pleading. She couldn’t wait to gather the gossip and nosh on the natter …


Knowing what you now know about natter-noshing Nosy Nellie, you might refer to her as which of the following?

  1. A zymurgist
  2. A shadcan
  3. A quidnunc

Sufficiently stumped?

Well, while Nosy Nellie may, indeed, study fermentation in the processes of brewing and distillation (zymurgist) or perform matchmaking in the old Hebrew style (shadcan), the most apropos label for the lady in this situation would be “quidnunc,” someone who is eager to know the latest news and gossip; a busybody.



that is to say,


the hills of ye-olde pastoral Palouse

were looking mighty lush and green …

Photo by Bala via Wikimedia Commons

Hear ye:

“Yestern” is an old English word that refers to yesterday.

“Yestreen,” on the other hand, is much more specific, meaning yesterday evening.


Or, should I say, yessireen?