Word of the Week Wednesday: catawampus

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: catawampus.

Catawampus is an adjective meaning askew, off-center or diagonally oriented.

It’s related to the word cater-cornered but it sounds more like some backwoods, mythical beast like a jackalope or a dropbear.

This connection is probably due to my half-remembering the legend of the Wampus-cat.

While the property of being askew or not quite orthogonal is not uninteresting in itself, I do like the word more as a name for a cryptid.



Word of the Week Wednesday: darkle

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week (finally rescued from the oubliette) is: darkle.

To darkle is to appear or grow dark, gloomy or indistinct.

I have always found this to be a cool little word.  It sounds as if it is the negative version of sparkle.

Sparkle can occasionally come across as twee.  I find darkle to be a refreshing alternative.

It’s like a nice patch of shade on a too-sunny day or a little touch of bitter to counteract too much sweet.



Word of the Week Wednesday: perdition

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: perdition.

Perdition is an old-fashioned word meaning damnation, hell and destruction; all sorts of bad things.

It comes from the Latin for destruction.

The sense of loss is seen in the French word from the same root: perdu meaning lost.

All of the senses intertwine in the sense that something ruined or destroyed is lost and that damnation and hell mean the loss of a soul.

Word of the Week Wednesday: militate

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: militate.

To militate is to have a substantial effect or to weigh heavily.  It used to mean to fight for a belief or to be a soldier.

This is not to be confused with mitigate which has a roughly opposite meaning, at least conceptually: to make better of less intense.

I do kind of like the almost misleading aspect of the word; it looks like military so one would think it has some meaning related to the military, but no more.


Word of the Week Wednesday: lugubrious

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: lugubrious

Lugubrious means gloomy or mournful but especially is an over-the-top, affected or melodramatic way.

The word always reminds my of an episode of the Twilight Zone called, “A Piano in the House”.  I can’t recall if I heard the word first in the dialog or if the butler character just struck me as the epitome of lugubriousness.

Besides just being a funny-sounding word, I’ve always been, if not amused, then at least entertained by the overwrought sense of the maudlin.

While Droopy Dog never really did much for me, Eeyore has always been my favorite of Pooh Bear‘s friends and of course Morrissey factors heavily in my music collection.

Word of the Week Wednesday: ferly

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: ferly.

Ferly is an adjective meaning strange, unusual or unexpected.

It is also used as a noun meaning something evincing those qualities.

What I like about this word is that it’s a short, simple word with punch that I would never have guessed the meaning of.

This is definitely a word I’d like to use in conversation.  I’d have to make sure the context is enough to get the meaning.

Using a new word and having to define it right away strikes me as pretentious, as if I want people to think, “Wow, he’s got a great vocabulary”.  When, actually, it’s just a cool word that I’d like to encourage others to use.



Word of the Week Wednesday: conundrum

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: conundrum.

Roughly, a conundrum is anything that’s puzzling but I’ve most often heard it used to describe a tricky situation or decision; a dilemma.

It turns out that what it really means is a riddle, usually one the answer to which is a pun, or a play on words.

Example: What’s black and white and red all over?  A newspaper.

The word is also spelled quonundrum and is a made-up pseudo-Latin word.

Word of the Week Wednesday: superfluous

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: superfluous.

Superfluous means more than necessary or excessive, also unneeded.

From its etymology, it literally means overflowing.

Granted, the term is almost exclusively used negatively, I do like the concept of overflowing abundance.

I’m also quite fond of the u-o-u-s construction.  The concatenation of so many open vowels adds to the sense of flowing.

Word of the Week Wednesday: oubliette

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: oubliette.

An oubliette is a dungeon cell.  Specifically one with the only opening being in the ceiling.

It derives from the French word, oublier meaning “to forget”.

The gist is that it was someplace you deposited a prisoner and then forgot about them

I first remember hearing the word in the movie Labyrinth.

This was one of the great geek movies that came out in the 80s, significantly contributing to my burgeoning geekdom.

And, in fact, labyrinth itself is quite a wonderful word, definitely WOWW-worthy.

Song Lyric Spotlight: Halloween Twofer

It’s been a while, but Song Lyric Spotlight is back!

I was inspired because today is Halloween.

There are, of course, countless spooky and Halloween-themed songs floating around like so many ill-mannered ghosts.

Today, I am presenting two songs which take the concept of the lullaby and childhood fears and go in drastically different directions.

The first song is: Lullaby (lyrics) by The Cure from their Disintegration album.

This is an intensely creepy song about a man-spider creeping into the singer’s bedroom to devour him alive.

Some lyrics:

On candystripe legs, the spiderman comes
softly through the shadow of the evening sun
stealing past the windows of the blissfully dead
looking for the victim shivering in bed


The next song, is also a lullaby and it is a much more of a standard, reassuring one.

The song is The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (lyrics) by The Smiths from their debut album.

It is a song a father sings to his son reassuring that he will always be there to protect him.

Please don’t cry
For the ghost and the storm outside
Will not invade this sacred shrine
Nor infiltrate your mind
My life down I shall lie
If the bogey-man should try
To play tricks on your sacred mind
To tease, torment, and tantalise
Wavering shadows loom
A piano plays in an empty room
There’ll be blood on the cleaver tonight

Still creepy, but touching as well.

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