of the Week
word or phrase to add to your army.
Now here's a fun word, whether you're into astronomy. medicine, art, or just playing out in the sun. The word is penumbra (pen-UM-bruh). An umbra is the darkest part of a shadow. The Latin prefix paene- means almost or nearly. So, if you add the Anglicized (made into English) pen- to umbra, you get penumbra or almost shadow. This is the kind of sub-shadow or soft shadow's shadow you see below:
Here's another simplified example of a penumbra.
Belfry (bell-free) is pronounced a little differently than it looks as though it might be. It looks as though it might be pronounced as a jingle you dropped in hot grease. While it does have to do with bells, it has nothing at all to do with boiling oil.
A belfry is the window part of a steeple that houses a bell, as on a church, cathedral, town square. schoolhouse, etc.
Some people are said to have "bats in their belfry." This is a not so kind phrase, meaning that they are insane or mad. Since bats like darkness and often fly around in belfries after dark, I suppose some unkind people think that those who are suffering with mental darkness have bats flying around in their brains, the upper part of their bodies or cathedrals. At any rate, I would steer clear of such a dark phrase!
But next time you drive by a belfry with someone you know, impress them with your knowledge of this architectural term!
A bat-free Romanesque double belfry
Flummox (FLUM-ucks) is one of my favorite words to use when I am confused, bewildered, puzzled, mystified, perplexed, or stunned, mostly at something silly someone has said. Then I like to shout out, "I'm so flummoxed right now!" or "You have me so flummoxed I don't know which end is up!"
Then, other times, when I'm feeling silly, I like to flummox my friends by speaking gibberish or nonsensical things to them, or pretending I misunderstand what they say and answer them back with something completely wrong.
Pulchritude (PULL-krih-tood) is an awfully awkward sounding word with just the opposite sort of meaning. If I told you that you possessed great pulchritude, would you consider it a compliment right off the bat? Probably not. You might even be tempted to huff away with hurt feelings. But don't be too hasty!
Pulchritude means (drum roll, please) physical beauty. Now, here's an interesting bit of trivia. The adjective for having beauty is beautiful. You might suspect that the adjective for having pulchritude would, therefore, be pulchritudiful. It is, in fact, not that word at all! It is a mouthful of a word. Are you ready? I'm going to tell you how beautiful you are using the pulchritude adjective. Ready? Are you sure? OK, then.
You are pulchritudinous!
Sorry. I didn't mean to shout. It's just that you are so dog-gone pulchritudinous I can hardly catch my breath!
No, no, no! Never hide your pulchritude from the world!
Twitterpated might sound like it has something to do with tweeting something on social media, and though you might do just that if you are twitterpated, as several gentemen have this week for this particular author, much to her dismay, it is actually a condition that can happen anytime and anywhere, but is often thought of as occuring in the spring.
When someone becomes completely head over heels over someone else, or finds themselves super-crushing on them, thinking about them non-stop, like I did my 6th grade math teacher, Mr. Purcell (Oh, he was so fine!!!), it is called twitterpated. I was twitterpated not only over Mr. Purcell in the 6th grade, but on several boys in high school. Nowadays, it takes a lot to get me twitterpated.
Oh, who am I kidding! I get twitterpated at the drop of a hat! What is a single old lady to do?
Today, I wanted to share a phrase. I wanted to share this phrase, because I am feeling this phrase. The phrase I am feeling and therefore sharing is . . . wait for it . . . "a day late and a dollar short." But, then, you knew that, didn't you? You knew that because it was the title of this post and because you are a very sharp person! Do you know how I know that? It is not because I am a day late and a dollar short. It is because you are here reading this post. People who want to know wonderful words and fabulous phrases check this website every Monday.
But, you declare out loud, it is not Monday! It is Tuesday! And Tuesday afternoon at that! AHA! You've been caught, Becky Lyn Rickman! You are a day late and a dollar short!
And, there, my friends, you have it! You have defined this fine little phrase yourself. You see, it is awful to be a day late. It is terrible to be a dollar short. But to be both? Well, that is an unspeakable tragedy. And I, Becky Lyn Rickman, am guilty of just such a tragedy in letting my little readers down by not posting this post in a timely posting manner! For that, I am every so sorry! Do please forgive me, and let's move on!
Agelast looks like it might be pronounced as a compound word: age-last. It is not, in fact, pronounced that way. It is pronounced ah-jih-lost. It is important for me to share with you that I am anything BUT an agelast.
If you've ever seen an ancient photograph, you will definitely see any number of agelasts. People tended to be pretty somber when they had their pictures taken a hundred years ago.
"Come on, girlie, smile for me!"
"No, I shan't do that!"
An agelast is a person who almost never smiles or laughs. They are also commonly referred to as "wet blankets," "sourpusses," and "party poopers."
I sometimes think people act like agelasts do so for attention. They want you to come up and ask them if they are OK so they can share their sad tales with you. It often backfires, however, and makes people want to avoid them.
This is not to say you should ALWAYS have a smile on your face. It is OK to be sad or angry sometimes. It just should not become a lifelong habit.
Today, I'm sharing one of my favorite phrases with you. It's called playing possum. That doesn't mean crawling on all fours and going through peoples trash cans. Neither does it mean carrying your babies on your back or standing in the middle of the street staring at oncoming cars.
I imagine you would be surprised if I were to tell you that you have very likely played possum yourself.
Would you like to know what it actually means?
Have you ever pretended to be asleep to fool your parents or pretending to be dead when you were playing with friends?
Possum "playing possum."
Many creatures play possum. It is a protective tactic that possums use so that predators will leave them alone. They pretend to be dead so other dangerous animals would leave them alone.
Cat "playing possum."
I used to play possum to make my parents think I was asleep. The reason I did that is that I could then get out my favorite book of the moment and read far past my bedtime. I spent most of my childhood sleepy in class because I wanted to read all the time!
For goodness sake, whatever you do, please, please, stay as far away as you can from snollygosters and snallygasters!!!
Both are harmful creatures that can mess up your life.
A snollygoster (snaw-lee-goss-ter) is someone who says one thing and then does the other. They are liars, swindlers, and simply cannot be trusted. They take many forms and you have to really think about what you tell them or how much you trust them.
They are out for themselves and their own gain.
taking the form of a concerned citizen.
An artistic rendering of a snallygaster.
A snallygaster (snah-lee-gas-ter), on the other hand, is a mythical creature, part bird, part reptile, that roams around at night preying on small animals. They are not real, but they are scary to think about.
This week's word means one thing that can be caused by both good and bad conditions.
Collywobbles (kah-lee-wah-bulls) is that feeling of butterflies in your stomach. The thing is, it can be caused by everything from love and infatuation to fear and nervousness. Anything that causes your stomach to feel nervous and fluttery will give you a case of collywobbles.
Sometimes you feel collywobbles without knowing why. This is a feeling of anxiety and you should always pay attention to it. It might be warning you of some danger.
I come down with terrible collywobbles when I have to speak in public or when I'm in a large crowd.
I am Becky Lyn Rickman. I am a writer because I love words almost as much as I love the people in my life. I want to fill the world with magnificent words and then jump in and splash around in them. I live with Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, my cats, but the only words they really love are "meat" and "gravy."