November 2012

Accomplishments so far this week:

  • Correct conversational use of the word borborygm – the grumbling of the bowels
  • Ability to find a stranger’s aorta without cutting them open (note: it does help to introduce yourself first)
  • Identification of the tenderloin, which looks suspiciously like what you find in the grocery store.
  • Ability to make jokes about nitrous oxide and the SodaStream, thanks to a strange confluence of muscular physiology and Bed Bath & Beyond catalogs
  • Snickerdoodles

Also, good luck to my little buddies-by-association, Nate & Theo. Within a week of life, you have achieved the dream of my wannabe-cyborg generation. However, we would like you back. Don’t get too ahead of yourselves, there.


I’ve heard from several of you who have already managed to work the words from last lesson into daily conversation, even if it involved calling a certain professor a crump. Well done! Now, let’s step it up, shall we?

Kakistocracy – the rule of a society by its worst/least-qualified citizens. We had a good time with this word on Monday when combining a kidney dysregulation lecture with politics.

*Borborygm – keeping with the physiology theme, this is a medical term for a rumbling in the bowels. Sounds just like it, don’t you think?

*Gongfermor – a nightsoilman, dunnykin driver, or emptier of cesspits. By law, they were only allowed to operate at night, for *ahem* solid reasons. However, it was an industry at which you could make a decent amount of cash, provided that you didn’t mind the social ramifications.

Lumpkin – a clumsy blunderer, possibly a bit thick, besides.

Glabrous – smooth, free from hair or down. This could refer to the skin (a glabrous pate, perhaps? It amazes me that a word can feel shiny) or to leaves that don’t have any fuzz.

Remember, the stars are for extra credit! Let us all know of your triumphs. While I’ll be out of town for the next few days (celebrating the wedding of two of my friends with bowling, card games, and good times, then studying for two exams 8P ), I’ll get back to you guys next week.

What with Sandy and exams, it’s been pretty busy lately. However, since one can’t always be studying, I’ve been trying to recruit my friends to help me bring back some of the funner words in English. So many of our best insults have fallen by the wayside! It’s a shame, really.

I’m putting together a series of notecards as biweekly/monthly bingo sheets; full marks if you can work every word into conversation at least once, with bonus points for extraordinary examples (marked with *). For you guys, I’ll make the updates more frequent, but a little smaller. Now, on to lesson 1:

Spatherdab – a foolish, gossipy sort of person. Someone who just can’t keep their trap shut.

Diablotin – an imp

Caynard – a sluggard (not to be confused with the French word for duck. Happily, this means that you can call someone a caynard canard and probably get away with your teeth intact :D)

Doughty – brave and persistent, but verging on comedic (somewhere between Don Quixote and an incumbent bureaucrat in late October)

Vespine – waspish

Crump – a crooked person (physically or morally). Specifically, this came to mean someone who could be paid to swear for your character in court. Strangely enough, this nastiness relates to the tasty pastry, the crumpet, which is also all curled up on itself. Weird world, eh?

**Floccinaucinihilipilification – (flocksi nausi nihili pili fication) the act or habit of estimating something as worthless. Yes, this is actually a real word, in use since the 18th Century. Blame Eton College.

Ok. That’s our go-list for the moment. Bear in mind that use of these words may worry your family and cause strangers to back away slowly, but that’s the fun of it! I’d love to hear about your conversations, and will give you some more fun treats next week. Good luck!