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Wednesday word: polystichia

polystichia: (pŏl'ē-stĭk'ē-ə)

Noun: Medical:
An abnormal arrangement of the eyelashes in two or more rows on the eyelid.

(I couldn't find any pictures of this phenomenon!)

Tuesday Word: bupper

Ah, Tourette's: The gift that keeps on ticcing. Not like a bomb, thankfully, but more like an obnoxiously loud clock when you're trying to fall asleep. Speaking of falling asleep, I recently developed a tic that gives my more deep-seated ones a run for their money. Every night, instead of fantasizing about being able to control my reality via The Sims and in addition to struggling to convince the cat NOT to lie on my ribcage, or my face, or palpate my organs with his paws, I must recite every possible word that ends in -pper and starts with either a vowel or a consonant followed by a vowel. "Q" gets a free "u" and "x" is included because I can't just skip a letter and also trying to remember how to pronounce an "x" at the beginning of a word while sleep-deprived amuses me.

Apper, bapper, bepper, bipper, bopper, bupper, capper, cepper, cipper, copper, cupper, dapper, depper, dipper, dopper, dupper, epper, fapper, fepper, fipper, fopper, fupper, gapper, gepper, gipper, gopper, gupper...

Well, that's what I get for downloading the Boggle app.

Some of them are actual words, of course, and others...who knows! Though I doubt it'll alter my routine, I decided to try to figure out which of these unfamiliar words were total nonsense and which simply had yet to enter my vocabulary. Bupper was the second (after "apper," as in "applicant"), and as a former ~creature of the night/that weirdo listening to "We Only Come Out At Night" on repeat while staring into the seemingly depthless eyes of your lawn gnome at 3am, it speaks to me.

Like brunch and linner, bupper is a portmanteau of two meal names, in this case breakfast and supper. It is consumed sometime between midnight and dawn. While anyone can eat bupper, I like to think of it as the purchase of the inebriated, insomniac or willfully nocturnal (because night is cool and stuff). It is the greasy fast cram down your throat on the way home from the bar or the sad, sad boxed pasta meal you verrrry quietly, though never as quietly as you think, made long after everyone else has gone to sleep and eaten in the glow of your computer screen. More than satisfying your hunger, it further solidifies your alienation from the world of respectable dawn-to-dusk people, insuring that no mid-morning hunger pangs disturb your slumber.

[Also I would like to extend my congratulations/condolences to the wordsmith (NOT ME THANK GOODNESS) honored/saddled with posting on both Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve this year!]

Monday word: lobscouse

lobscouse  (lŏb′skous′) noun
A stew made of meat, vegetables, and hardtack, and eaten by sailors.

Well, historically eaten by sailors; these days I think they eat a lot less hardtack.  (Hardtack is a cracker known for its extreme dryness, hardness, and long storage life.)

As with most things-on-hand foods, there is no one exact recipe.  It seems likely that original recipes used salt pork or beef, along with potatoes, onions, carrots, and/or turnips.  The hardtack is broken up before being added to the stew.

Etymology:  Early 1700s.  The word origin is unclear.  It is similar to scouse  but in scouse the stew is thickened by mashing some of the potatoes, rather than by adding hardtack.

Sunday Word: Quonset + Poll

quon·set [kwon-sit]:
origin: [1942] Quonset Point Naval Air Station, RI; possibly Algonquian= "small, long place"

Take a cylinder, cut it in half, and imagine it the size of a building made of corrugated steel; that's essentially a quonset. Originally created as a quick & affordable way to create workspaces & storage for the United States military, this design for a building is now used in farming and even explored as an affordable living space.

The key to the design is the Roman Arch, which makes the building not only simple to build, but sturdy -- a key component to withstand rough weather.

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4 question pollCollapse )

Saturday Word: Sacateur

sec·a·teur [ˌse-kə-ˈtər]:
origin: [1800s] French; sécateur, Latin; secare= "to cut"

A fancy word for gardening sheers; scissors used for pruning, invented by the French.

Believe it or not, they were "controversial" in their time. Was it for cutting fingers off? No, the concern was entirely for the plants because it had a tendency to crush them before slicing. Eventually, modernizing sacateurs as well as observing which plants it was harmless to (wine growing or woody rose branches) improved its popularity significantly.

Sacateurs were at first made with toughened steel adorned with bone, horn or exotic wooden handles -- today's tool is more likely to be carbon with ergonomic handles coated in vinyl. Other modern advantages may include battery or electric powered devices. The British Empire and Japan have a particular interest in the innovation of this common garden item.

Friday word: Zither

Another z-word ;)
zith·er noun \ˈzi-thər, -thər\

: a musical instrument that has strings stretched across a shallow wooden box and that is played with your fingers or a pick

: a stringed instrument having usually 30 to 40 strings over a shallow horizontal soundboard and played with pick and fingers


German, from Old High German zitara, cithara, from Latin cithara kithara, from Greek kithara

First Known Use: 1850

You can see one such highly decorated instrument over here

Thursday word: acajou

acajou (AK-uh-zhoo) - n., the cashew tree, its fruits, or its resin; the wood of any of several species of mahogany.

Given that the cashew tree is not related to the mahoganies, interesting that this word came to be applied to the wood -- and it's not at all clear from the traces online how this happened. Nor is it clear which way the application went: the word is from French acajou, cashew, from which the English cashew also derives, from Portuguese, acaju, from Old Tupi acaju or agapú or acajuba or aka'iu -- the dictionaries have a range of romanizations, if those aren't actually different words, and disagree on what it/they meant, either cashew or mahogany. If anyone can provide clarity on the matter, I'd appreciate it.

Across the clearing were the spreading branches of a fine old acajou.


Wednesday word: Swale

Swale: [sweyl]

1. A low tract of land, especially one that is moist or marshy, often with ranker vegetation than that of the adjacent higher lands.

2. A valleylike intersection of two slopes in a piece of land.

3.A manmade ditch designed to manage water runoff, filter pollutants, and increase rainwater infiltration.

Origin: 1400-50; late Middle English; originally a cool, shady spot, perhaps Old Norse svalr meaning cool, or svalir meaning a covered porch.

Monday word: operose

operose (ŏp′ə-rōs′), adj.
1.  Industrious, busy
2.  done with much labor; tedious; wearisome

Etymology:  1600s, from Latin operosus, "laborious, industrius", from opus, "work"

As I trolled Google Books in search of an example of the word, I ran across a reference to an operose agriculture, one where all the tilling was done on foot.  This reminded me of a running joke a friend and I have regarding "grinding toil" - I think the phrase joined our vocabulary by way of a book explaining the joy of planting one's front yard to grain, then harvesting, milling, and baking the grain to make a loaf of bread.  This is an operose method of feeding oneself, which would certainly give one a greater appreciation of the labor involved in generating such a basic item (while also avoiding ergot poisoning), and an understanding of why industrialization became so popular.

Saturday Word: Numismatics

nu·mis·mat·ics [ˈbɛlˌwɛðə]:
origin: [1700s] French; numismatiques from the Greek; νόμισμα= nomisma= "coin"

Because there is a lack of occupations that are tongue-twisters, I present you with one that means the study of currency in all forms: coins, paper, credit, gems, metals, seashells, etc -- new and old alike.

Coin collectors often use this term to describe themselves, so an item may have a "numismatic value" that correlates to its worth as part of a collection, though not necessarily its literal worth as a form of payment.

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Read more about a 6.07 lb gold nugget found in San Francisco, examined by a numismatist.

Are you a numismatist; possess any rare or qualifying items?

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