Category: words

  • Listless


    I was feeling listless yesterday, and I started wondering about the origin of the word. My guess was that it was related to how a boat lists, meaning leaning off to the side, and I was thinking that it was connected to how a sailboat will lean to the side when under heavy wind and […]

  • A story of a word

    I got an e-mail yesterday inquiring about the spelling of a word that I used in a poem that will be published this fall. I had written “galabiyya” in reference to the robe-like garb that some Islamic men wear. My editor, doing due diligence found spellings of “galabeya” and “jalabiya.”  I honestly didn’t even remember […]

  • n + 7

    Thank you for giving us the oppressor to consider your workbook. We regret that we are unable to carry it in the maggot. Warmest regards, The Educations.

  • Learning about my language use from a word cloud

    I happened to notice the picture below on the desktop of my MacBook: Glancing over the image, there are some obvious things that can be noted. The two biggest words are the name of my protagonist and his antagonist’s title. There’s an assortment of other character names and descriptive terms that all feel appropriate for […]

  • Susurrus

    I happened in one day to come across the words “susurrus” and “susurrate” in two different books (Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Tom McCarthy’s C). Finding the coincidence delightful, I went home and told my wife about the new word(s) I had learned. “Ahh, sussurate,” she whispered. It took me a while to realise that my wife, […]

  • Divagate

    I’m always conscious of the words that appear in the books I read, looking for those words which I don’t know. I’ve had the word “divagate” in my list of interesting words for a while, long enough that I forget where it came from. I found two definitions for the word. A literal meaning of […]

  • Girning

    I’m always on the lookout for new words, opportunities to push the boundaries of my vocabulary, so when I encountered the word “girning” in an A. S. Byatt short story, I had to make a note of this one. In the context, it was a whining or complaining sound (made, in this case by a […]