HORS D’OEUVRES [awr DURV]: Any of various savory foods usually served as appetizers


As I’ve said many times before, there are words in our American English language that come to us directly from another language.   John McIntyre, my colleague who writes the blog, You Don’t Say, says  that we tend to forget that our language is somewhat of a slut, in that it is a language that co-opts […]

CROTCHET [KROCH-it] : An odd, whimsical, or stubborn notion.


When I first came across the word crotchet I thought it was the familiar word, crochet.  I spent some time researching the word, thinking that there was some literary variation on the meaning to what I understood to be handwork created with a notched needle and very fine thread.  No useful results were forthcoming. So […]

RAMSHACKLE: loosely made or held together; rickety


Ramshackle is a fascinating word.  It isn’t uncommon; in fact, it is quite commonly used in discussions, writings, and other forms of communication.  But, again, it occurred to me that I didn’t know where the word came from, and I suspected that many of us who use this word regularly are in the same boat.   […]

ELDRITCH [EL-drich] : weird, unearthly

I went to the theater to see Promised Land with Matt Damon this weekend.   But, as ever, it’s impossible to go to a movie without having to endure at least ten minutes of trailers prior to the sigh of relief when the words “Featured Presentation” come on the screen and we are cautioned to turn […]

NOR’EASTER [nawr-EE-ster]: a storm coming in from the northeast

When a storm in the northeastern part of the United States comes in from the ocean, particularly from a point northeast of the land site, it is called a nor’easter.  There are language purists who insist that the proper word is a northeaster, but we who live in this part of the country know that […]

MILITANT IGNORANCE: the desire on the part of individuals to wallow in false beliefs despite their knowledge of the truth

It frustrates the heck out of me when I hear people say something they know is false, but which they have embraced for the purpose of winning points.   You hear it all the time in political rallies. the Presidents is not a natural-born American the soaring  gas prices are the fault of the President Mitt […]