"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Monday, 27 June 2011


I guess most people are aware that a goose is a big fluffy, feathery thing that either floats around lakes or sits in gravy at Christmas. Technically - A large waterbird (esp. the genera Anser and Branta), with a long neck, short legs, webbed feet, and a short broad bill. Generally geese are larger than ducks and have longer necks and shorter bills.

Goose can be used specifically to mean the female of the bird whose male is called a gander.

But how many of its other meanings are you aware of?

A simpleton.

Anything that energizes, strengthens, or the like: to give the economy a badly needed goose.

A tailor's smoothing iron with a curved handle.

An obsolete board game played with dice and counters in which a player whose cast falls in a square containing the picture of a goose is allowed to advance double the number of his or her throw.

Goose are also a Belgian electro rock band. Bet you didn't know that one!

To goose (slang) - to poke someone between the buttocks.

To goose - to prod or urge to action or an emotional reaction.

To goose - to strengthen or improve (often followed by up ): Let's goose up the stew with some wine.

To goose - to increase; raise (often followed by up ): to goose up government loans in weak industries.

To goose - to give a spurt of fuel to (a motor) to increase speed.

Goose - an affectionate term for a close member of the opposite sex (or a younger member of one's own) - often meaning that they were silly but in a pleasant way.


To cook someone's goose - to ruin someone's hopes, plans, chances, etc.: His goose was cooked when they found the stolen gems in his pocket.

All his geese are swans - he constantly exaggerates the importance of a person or thing.

A wild goose chase - an unsuccessful hunt for something.

Kill the goose that lays the golden eggs - to sacrifice future benefits for the sake of momentary present needs.

Goose step - originally (1806) was a military drill to teach balance; "to stand on each leg alternately and swing the other back and forth" (which, presumably, reminded someone of a goose's way of walking); in reference to "marching without bending the knees" (as in Nazi military reviews) it apparently is first recorded 1916.

What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander - What is suitable for a woman is suitable for a man or, more broadly, what is good enough for one person is good enough for the other.


Saturday, 25 June 2011


A guerdon (pronounced GURdn) is a present, reward for a service or an accolade. The word can also be used as a verb - "He guerdoned her a watch for her exam results".

It's a nasty word to come across in a crossword!


Friday, 24 June 2011



Postprandial means after eating a meal while preprandial is before a meal.

This term is used in many contexts. In an upper class Victorian household a postprandial glass of port or brandy and cigar was enjoyed by the gentlemen while the ladies had a postprandial coffee.

Nowadays it is more oftent to be found in relation to blood sugar (or blood glucose) levels, which are normally measured 2 hours after and before eating in a postprandial glucose test.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Long one hundred

In times gone by a long hundred or long one hundred was a phrase used tomean 120.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


A thesmothete was originally one of the six junior archons at Athens. Archon is a Greek word that means "ruler" or "lord", frequently used as the title of a specific public office. The word thesmothete has now come to mean someone who lays down the law, a lawgiver or a legislator.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Slow and aloft

The expression 'slow and aloft' appears in Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson - "Some's turned the chest out slow and aloft."

Slow, in this context, means bottom so this old expression was the equivalent of our modern 'top to bottom' - meaning throughout.

Monday, 20 June 2011


The term factoid is sometimes used to mean a trivial fact but its correct meaning is "an item of unreliable information that is repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact" (Oxford English Dictionary ).

A factoid, according to Wikipedia, is a questionable or spurious—unverified, incorrect, or fabricated—statement presented as a fact, but with no veracity. The word can also be used to describe a particularly insignificant or novel fact, in the absence of much relevant context.

Factoid was coined by Norman Mailer in his 1973 biography of Marilyn Monroe. Mailer described a factoid as "facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper", and created the word by combining the word fact and the ending -oid to mean "similar but not the same". The Washington Times described Mailer's new word as referring to "something that looks like a fact, could be a fact, but in fact is not a fact". CNN's Headline News incorporated factoids into its half-hour newscast in the early 1990s under the direction of Jon Petrovich.

Factoids may give rise to, or arise from, common misconceptions and urban legends.

Sunday, 19 June 2011



A pergola (pronounced per-guh-ler) is an arbor formed of horizontal trelliswork supported on columns or posts, over which vines or other plants are trained.

Saturday, 18 June 2011


As a noun, a twit is a twerp; someone who is regarded as mildly contemptible or foolish.

As a verb it can mean to tease: harass with persistent criticism or carping.

"All the children kept twitting the twit!"

Friday, 17 June 2011


Crapulent and crapulous both mean excessive indulgence; intemperance. given to or characterized by gross excess in drinking or eating.

"Voltaire was always crapulous."

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


In Victorian times a tucker was a piece of lace or linen worn in or around the top of a bodice or as an insert at the front of a low-cut dress.

"She was a walking advertisemnt for lace - collars, frills, tuckers and wristbands."

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


A pelisse (sometimes spelled with one s - pelise) was originally a short fur lined or fur trimmed jacket that was usually worn hanging loose over the left shoulder of hussar light cavalry soldiers, ostensibly to prevent sword cuts. It was fastened there using a lanyard.

During Victorian times the word was used for a fur lined or fur robe or gown; or a woman's silk gown lined or trimmed with fur; an overgarment worn by Victorian children when outside; or an outdoor fitted garment for women, ankle-length, and often with a collar and cuffs at the wrist. In other words it seems almost as if anything you wore could be called a pelisse!

Monday, 13 June 2011


An ennead is a group or set of nine, as GB and I discovered recently having tried to fit 'noctet' into the answer to a crossword clue!

The original Ennead (Greek ἐννεάς, meaning a collection of nine things) was a group of nine deities in Egyptian mythology. The Ennead were worshipped at Heliopolis and consisted of the god Atum, his children Shu and Tefnut, their children Geb and Nut and their children Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephthys.

Sunday, 12 June 2011



To propitiate means to appease a god, spirit, or person; to make peace with; to atone for sin or wrongdoing; or to conciliate (an offended power).

Saturday, 11 June 2011


To apostrophise is to address an exclamatory passage in a speech or poem to (someone or something); to punctuate (a word) with an apostroph; or to rebuke or reprimand; or to blame. With all those meanings it works hard for its living does apostrophise!.

Friday, 10 June 2011


A tippet is a stole or scarf-like narrow piece of clothing, worn around the arms and above the elbow. They evolved in the fourteenth century from long sleeves and typically had one end hanging down to the knees. In Victorian times the name tippet came to commonly mean a woman's fur shoulder cape with hanging ends; often consisting of the whole fur of a fox or marten.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

A cold snap

The expression 'a cold snap' means a spell of cold weather. Since weather and complaints about it being not hot enough are major topics of British conversation this is a well-used phrase!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011



According to the dictionary I'm antiquated! It says the use of 'twixt or betwixt to mean between is outmoded and I quite often use them both. 'Twixt me and thee I'm not sure the dictionary is correct!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Colocynths and coelacanths


The colocynth (Citrullus colocynthis), also known as bitter apple, bitter cucumber, egusi, or vine of Sodom, is a viny plant native to the Mediterranean Basin, North Africa, and Asia, especially Turkey. Its pulp is used to make a purgative. I love the idea of something being called the Vine of Sodom!

Not to be confused with the coelacanth - A large, bony marine fish (Latimeria chalumnae, family Latimeriidae) with a three-lobed tail fin and fleshy pectoral fins, found chiefly around the Comoro Islands. It was known only from fossils until one was found alive in 1938.

Monday, 6 June 2011


Don't you just love it! I couldn't resist doing a second word blog today when I came across this 'word' on an Amazon advert -
"Free (and semi-free) Literary Classics for the Kindle (US & UK) by Marilyn Knapp Litt - Avid Reader (Kindle Edition - 18 Mar 2011)".

I wouldn't bother searching your dictionary - I doubt it's word that's going to catch on.


Pipkin sounds a lovely name for a pet but it weas actually a small earthenware pot. A pipkin is an earthenware cooking pot used for cooking over direct heat from coals or a wood fire. They have a handle and three feet. Late medieval and postmedieval pipkins had a hollow handle in order to insert a stick in it for manipulation.

A Pipkin Fracture is a fracture of femoral head in association with posterior dislocation of hip.