polyphiloprogenitive what?

“All spring and summer my parents ricochet from garden to garden, mulching, watering, pulling up the polyphiloprogenitive weeds, ‘until’, my mother says, ‘I’m bent over like a coat hanger,'” writes Margaret Atwood in a book called Bluebeard’s Egg.


Photo courtesy of Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons

I feel pretty certain that you and I are both still stuck at poly

Polyphiloprogenitive, was it?

Thank goodness for a computer’s “copy” and “paste” functions (I dare not re-type that one on my own).

This term—polyphiloprogenitive (see, I pasted again!)—is one of those words whose meaning a farmgirl can glean from context,

particularly when the context involves garden weeds (think extremely prolific),

but that doesn’t make saying it any easier.

A syllabic breakdown is in order.

Join me:





Now … say it three times fast!


Photo courtesy of Elizabeth via Wikimedia Commons




  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    A total tongue twister for me but quite an interesting word for the complex work involved in every garden. I bet it was one of those words that broke the stalemate of an intense Scrabble game late one evening!

  2. Lisa A says:

    I just saw this on Wordsmith this week! Do you get their e-mails?

  3. Winnie, not enough letters to work with to do in Scrabble I’m afraid to say, not even if building onto another word. Trust me ,my family are Scrabble geeks of the highest order. We play with an egg timer and we are vicious ! Neat word, I’m giving a a gardening lecture on Tuesday and think I will try and use it.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *