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Hello,

There’s only one possible word I could explore today – hurricane. It’s noon here on the east coast of Ireland and we’re due to experience ex-hurricane Ophelia this afternoon and evening. Although we love to complain about the weather in this country we’re lucky enough to have a temperate climate and while the rainfall helps our green fields we generally avoid hurricanes, earthquakes, twisters, and wildfires.

Hurricane Ophelia Over Ireland

That means that today’s Red Weather Alert is the the worst weather event in this country in 50 years. We’re expecting gusts of up to 150km per hour and 22,000 homes in the south of the country are already without power. I’ve spent my morning storm-proofing our garden and gathering items like torches, batteries, camping cookers, and filling our water containers. My children’s schools are closed and they’re fretting about losing our wifi! Others are more laid-back. Two of my neighbours haven’t even removed the nets from their garden trampolines. Those will act as sails this afternoon, worrying.

Hurricane entered the English language in the 1500s from the Spanish word huracán. The Spanish were busy in the Caribbean at that time thanks to the golden age of sail. Huracán came from the Taino language where Hurakán was their god of evil. The Taino people were indigenous to the Caribbean and Florida. They borrowed the word from the Mayans who used it to name their god of wind, storm, and fire. Hurricane isn’t the only weather word we took from Spanish sources. They also gave us tornado which comes from tronado (thunderstorm) and tornar (to turn).

The god Hurakán sounds like a lovely chap. This one-legged creator god is sometimes depicted with a second serpent-like limb. According to legend he lived in the mists above the waters and by repeating the word “earth” he caused the land to arise. Unfortunately the humans angered the gods and he was equally happy to send a deluge to wash them away. The cycle of creation and eradication happened three times. He even sent a plague of dogs and turkeys at one point.

I am hoping we won’t have swarms of turkeys later today, but anything is possible. If you’re in Ireland, I hope you and yours are safe through this.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling (by torchlight!),

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

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Hello,

Last Thursday I attended my first ever award ceremony so I’m skipping the word-fooling today and giving you the inside scoop on the V by Very Irish Blog Awards 2017. I’ll be back with more unusual words next week, don’t fret.

The awards had a theme of Movie Icons and funnily enough I don’t have a Monroe dress or a touch of Tiffany in my wardrobe so I tried to think of something linked to books as words and books are what I do. Sherlock Holmes is the most filmed fictional character ever, so that seemed appropriate. He’s on my mind at the moment anyhow because of  CSI-themed event I’m planning for next year.

Mercifully Amazon came up trumps with a deerstalker hat and pipe in a hurry.

I traveled to Dublin and met up with my writing friend and wordfoolery reader Noelle Ameijenda who had donned her best Science Officer garb from “Star Trek” for the event. We couldn’t miss the venue as it had a huge billboard sign above the entrance announcing the event.

Very glam, we thought, and it was backed up by the professional photographer inside taking everybody’s photos. Unfortunately we never laid our hands on the pic of the two of us together so you’ll have to make do with my increasingly wobbly photos from the night. That had nothing to do with the free bubbly, honest.

First stop, after the cloakroom, was the Green Room where we picked up a drink and enjoyed meeting some of the movie cut-outs they’d scattered around the room. I never got time to get a selfie with Chewbacca or Audrey Hepburn but we did meet Two Storm Troopers on their Night Off, a.k.a. the BlabbaTheHutt podcasters and bloggers of all things Star Wars.

The force was strong in them and they were loving the Star Wars cutouts in the room, of course. Next stop was some lovely food from KC Peaches and grabbing the last seats in the room for the start of the awards ceremony itself which was hosted by the Lords of Strut. These two lads from Cork have to be seen to be believed. Their acrobatic antics and posing was top notch, if a little bizarre at times. Their stylist should be shot, but I imagine that’s the point and they certainly knew how to get the room engaged in a very long list of finalists and awards that might otherwise have dragged.

Wordfoolery was a finalist in two categories and one was the first to be announced – Arts & Culture. The award went to Luwd Media (personal) – a film & tv blog and Writing.ie (corporate) – a well-known advice hub for writers. Able to relax now, I settled back and we chatted with the Film in Dublin blog team beside us. They run a site about all things film (reviews, festivals, special events) in the Dublin area. We appeared to be on the “lucky” balcony as loads of people rushed from their seats to collect their shiny gold letter b-shaped awards from the stage.

The halfway break saw us topping up the drinks and losing our seats in the process so we perched beside Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader on the main floor for the second half of the awards. It was a family reunion type thing.

We reached the Books & Literature category and I got to see Wordfoolery’s name up in lights.

For some reason that was super exciting and I didn’t mind a bit when Gobblefunked (personal) won the category as it’s a great blog about kids books and then Ballyronan Reads (librarians recommending books – what’s not to like?) won the corporate category with silver to the O’Brien Press blog. With competition like that I was happy to be amongst the finalists.

Congratulations to all the winners. It was wonderful to see how enthusiastic the blogging community in Ireland is and I wasn’t a bit surprised to find out how friendly too. Thanks again to Noelle for coming along, I’m very jealous of your costume!

The night was moving on to clubbing but it was a school-night so we grabbed our goodie bags and Sherlock left the building.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

p.s. I’m always curious about what people get in the goodie bags. So here you go, the full loot –

Pipe and hat – model’s own!

Hello,

Did you know that despite democracy coming from ancient Greece, the word ballot comes from Italy?

Ballot (pronunciation here) has a multitude of uses in modern English as both noun and verb but all are related to voting.

Early American ballot box with ballottas used by a social club called The Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of the District of Columbia (source Wikipedia)

Ballot began life in Venice, probably with the Italian word pallotte which means “little ball” because they used small balls as counters in secret votes. The word gradually changed to ballotta and transferred to Middle French as ballotte and finally to English by the 1540s as ballot.

Before it even reached English the balls had been replaced in most cases by small slips of paper but balls were still used in certain contexts. One such context is where a club’s rules say that even one nay-vote is sufficient to defeat a proposal. A nay is indicated by a black ball and an aye is indicated by a white ball. Using a ballot box such as the one above (combined with a covering cloth) enabled all to vote and the result to be see instantly. This practice led to the idea of black-balling, typically to exclude a possible new member who didn’t fit the existing ethos of the club.

Curiosity led me to the website for the Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of the District of Columbia. They’re still going strong and if you’re over 40 and a long standing resident of the area you can apply to join. They still vote on memberships but they don’t mention the balloting method.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

p.s. I’ll be attending the V by Very Irish Blog Awards in Dublin this week as Wordfoolery made the finals. If you’re there too be sure to say hello. I’ll be the one in the Sherlock hat.

Hello,

This week’s word is hippomonstrosesquippedaliophilia and it is a suggestion from blog-reader, Sheena, thank you!

Beware of the Hippos 🙂

Sadly hippomonstrosesquippedaliophilia isn’t in any of the mainstream dictionaries to which I have access. It appears to be a recently coined word from sesquipedalian (pronunciation here). So what does sesquipedalian mean then? It’s the word to describe long, multi-syllabic words and is, itself, sesquipedalian. The word can also describe someone who delights in using long words where perhaps a shorter one would do. The adjective is sesquipedalian and one of these words is a sesquipedalia, the singular noun.

Where does that get us with the hippos (beserk or otherwise)?

If you are afraid of long words you suffer from a related word, hippomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, and you might enjoy the Long Word Song on You Tube (plug in headphones first if you’re at work).

Hippomonstrosesquippedaliophobia features in some modern dictionaries like Urban Dictionary and Wordnik but without an explanation of its word roots. It’s even a hashtag on Twitter which is brave as it contains 32 of the maximum 140 characters in a tweet. However a bit of word dissection is a fun activity on a Monday so here goes. Hippomonstros means very large. Sesquipedalio comes from the afore-mentioned sesquipedalian adjective to describe very long words and phobia as everybody knows means fear (from the Greek word Phobos who was the son of Ares, the god of war). Hence we get fear of very, very, very large words. It’s fun fake-Latin and hey, how many 32 letter words do you know?

The original word suggestion, hippomonstrosesquippedaliophilia, is a simple twist that adds philia (love) rather than phobia (fear) as a suffix and gives us the love of very, very, very long words. It may not be an official word, but it has 32 letters too and I like it. How about you?

Before I sign off, I’d like to welcome the 400th subscriber to Wordfoolery. I hope you suggest a word for me to explore (via the comments or the Nominate a Word page). I’m proud to announce that Wordfoolery has made it to the finals of the V by Very Irish Blog Awards 2017 in both the Arts & Culture and Books & Literature categories. I’m delighted and am looking forward to attending the awards ceremony.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

p.s. I dare you to use the #Hippomonstrosesquippedaliophobia tag on Twitter!

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Hello,

This week’s word is lethologica (pronunciation here) and according to the Oxford English Dictionary it’s a rare word for the inability to remember a particular word or name. Unless you’re one of those blessed people with perfect recall for names of those they’ve met previously, I am sure you’re grappled for a name at some point. I used to try and bluff my way out or avoid the name entirely but having been on the receiving end of that approach, it doesn’t work. Now I admit my fuzziness and ask for a reminder.

Being unable to retrieve a particular word from the memory vaults can hit even a word nerd like myself and can be frustrating so I was delighted to discover there’s a term for this struggle. Lethologica is a relatively recent addition to the English language, possibly coined by Carl Jung and first seen c. 1915. It’s formed by joining two Greek words – lethe which means forgetfulness and logos which means word.

In Greek mythology the River Lethe, also known at the River of Oblivion, ran through the underworld. The souls of the dead drank from it to forget their earthly memories. The goddess of forgetfulness, also called Lethe, supervised this process.

The other four rivers were the Styx or River of Hatred which ringed Hades seven times, the Acheron or River of Pain which is the one the ferryman Charon crossed with the souls, the Phelegethon or River of Fire leading to Tartarus, and the Cocytus or River of Wailing where souls not buried properly were abandoned. Interestingly the Acheron is a real river in Greece.

So the next you’re struggling to name a person or find the perfect word, try distracting your friends with the history of lethologica instead.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and what was that word again – oh yes – wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

p.s. I’m delighted to announce that Wordfoolery has made it to the shortlist in the 2017 V by Very Irish Blog Awards in two categories – Arts & Culture and Books & Literature.

 

A Guzzling Gizzard

Hello,

This week’s word is gizzard, simply because I like the way it sounds. I also have a fondness for words containing the letter z. When I taught myself to type when I was ten, I felt sorry for the letters z and q because they’re so rarely used and relegated to the cold outer corners of the keyboard.

Friendly robin in Connemara National Park

The gizzard is part of a bird’s intestines where food is ground up for further digestion, sometimes with the aid of grit. A similar structure exists in earthworms, fish, molluscs, some insects. There is evidence to suggest that some dinosaur species had gizzards too, as did the friendly robin I met in Connemara last month (see left).

Gizzard dates to the 1400s and entered English from the Latin term gigeria which is the plural for giblets, i.e. cooked chicken entrails, a dish my father always savours but not one I’d try personally. From Latin it wandered to French as gesir, and later guisier, the Old North French word for fowl’s liver. From there it finally slipped into Middle English as giser and gizzard for liver. The gizzard isn’t really a liver, but I can imagine it being an easy mistake when cooking chicken entrails, a slippery business at best.

Given that crocodiles and alligators have gizzards I can’t help wondering about the guzzling gizzard of the greedy lizard – a sentence with a plethora of neglected “z”s to enjoy.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and guzzling with your gizzard,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

 

Hello,

This week’s word is groin, or groyne. A groin is a long narrow structure in coastal engineering built out into the water to prevent beach erosion by trapping sand. It stabilises the beach on the updrift side but may cause issues in the other direction. As a result they are often built in groups known as groin fields.

Groins (pronunciation here) aren’t that common on the Irish coastline. There’s a small timber groin field at Malahide in Dublin and I also spotted some at Curracloe Beach in Wexford earlier this summer (see above) although these ones, made from tree trunks taken from the local pine forest, were not perpendicular to the shore, but parallel, to conserve the large dune network.

Even if you haven’t visited Curracloe yourself, you may have seen it on the big screen thanks to the amazing opening minutes of “Saving Private Ryan” and the beach-date scene in “Brooklyn”. The groins weren’t visible in either but those soldiers struggled almost as much as I did to climb the dunes. Mercifully I wasn’t under fire at the time.

Groin joined the English language in the 1500s as a dialect word meaning “snout”. That in turn came from Old French groign and Latin words grunium “pig’s snout” and grunnire a verb meaning “to grunt”. The next time I spy a line of timber posts running out to sea to disrupt erosion I will think of the land as snuffling its way out into the pig trough of waves.

One interesting side note – there’s some debate about the spelling – groin or groyne. Wikipedia and the Oxford English Dictionary think the spelling in the US is groin versus groyne in British English. I’ve never seen groyne in a lifetime of reading British English and even the Encyclopedia Britannica thinks the British spelling is groin. Perhaps groyne is being eroded on this side of the Atlantic?

Until next time happy reading, writing, and Wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)