Tag Archives: pandiculation



Appropriately enough I’m writing my blog post this morning having risen early to get some words down before the rest of the house awakens. This week’s word, with thanks to the wonderful television medical series “House” (featuring Hugh Laurie as a brilliant and sarcastic but sociopathic diagnostician in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes). They used pandiculation in an episode and sent me scurrying for my dictionary.

Pandiculation (audio pronunciation available here) is a “stretching and stiffening of the trunk and extremities when drowsy or after waking from sleep”. Basically if you yawn and stretch when you wake up, you’re pandiculating.

Yawn like a roman (sculpture at Ostia Antica, the old Roman harbour)

Pandiculation entered English in the 1600s from simple Latin roots. Pandiculari is the Latin for “to stretch oneself” thanks to pandere (to stretch or to spread). This is one the Romans gave us, as illustrated above.

Until next time happy reading, writing, wordfooling, and stretching,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

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Up past your bedtime?


I’ve been burning the proverbial candle at both ends (quite possible with rushlights apparently, hence the expression – it gave more light) in the last few days. First it was my DH’s 40th birthday, a good night and a late one, then last night I ran out of time during daylight hours to return critiques on my online fiction critiquing group, forcing me to read and comment into the wee small hours.

The result, of course, was tiredness and yawning.

Or should I say pandiculation? Pronounced pan-dick-cul-ay-shun, this term describes the yawning and stretching we do, especially upon waking. Such a long word for a simple act. And there’s another – oscitation (pronounciation audio file available there). But did you know there’s also oscitancy? Yes, it’s the state of being drowsy, inattentive, and dull. It makes me think of endless office meetings and tedious, repetitive lessons in school. Of course I was quick to remind judgemental bosses and teachers that yawning is mainly to do with balancing the pressure on the ear-drums and unrelated to tiredness or boredom. They never believed me.

Considering oscillation refers to the regular swinging of, for example, a pendulum or pocket watch, perhaps there’s a word link between sway of a watch and the oscitancy trance the hypnotist seeks to impose on their subject?

I think I’ll beware of excessive pandiculation tomorrow, and retire early this evening,

happy reading, writing, and wordfooling this week,