Word Of The Day 6-29-2017


in·ter·dig·i·tate \ˌin-tər-ˈdi-jə-ˌtāt\
Popularity: Top 40% of words




to become interlocked like the fingers of folded hands


Linguistic history is so much harder for two primary reasons. First, branches can reconnect, interweave, interdigitate, borrow from and filter through one another.

Stephen Jay Gould, “Talk Gets Around,” New York Times, December 11, 1988

there are times when their feelings become too much for them. Then, if the occasion is too formal for unrestrained shrieks, they silently interdigitate.

Ian Hay, The Right Stuff, 1910

Did You Know?

“Interdigitate” usually suggests an interlocking of things with finger-like projections, such as muscle fibers or the teeth of an old-fashioned bear trap. The word can also be used figuratively to imply a smooth interweaving of disparate things, such as the blending of two cultures within a shared region.


Interdigitate is a derivative of the Latin noun digitus, most commonly meaning is “finger” and secondarily “toe” and finally, as a measure of length, “the breadth of a finger, inch.” The Latin noun derives from the Proto-Indo-Europeanroot (and its variants) deik-, doik-, dik- (also deig-, doig-, dig-) “to point, point out, show.” One of the Germanic derivatives of doik- is taih(wō), which in Old English develops into tahe and then , whence Modern English “toe,” except that human beings cannot interdigitate with their toes. Interdigitate entered English in the 19th century.



Word Of The Day 6-24-2017



maf·fick \ˈma-fik\
Popularity: Bottom 30% of words


to celebrate with extravagant public demonstrations.


It is evidence of his freedom from pedantry that Doctor Bradley seemed to be willing to accept to buttle, from butler, to bant from Banting, the name of the Englishman who proposed a new method for reducing fat, and to maffick –that is,to indulge in a riotous demonstration in the street, like that which took place in London in 1900 when there came the glad news of the relief of Mafeking, long beleaguered by the Boers.

-Brander Matthews, “The Latest Novelties in Language,” Harper’s Magazine, June–November, 1920

Did You Know?

Maffick is an alteration of Mafeking Night, the British celebration of the lifting of the siege of a British military outpost during the South African War at the town of Mafikeng (also spelled Mafeking) on May 17, 1900. The South African War was fought between the British and the Afrikaners, who were Dutch and Huguenot settlers originally called Boers, over the right to govern frontier territories. Though the war did not end until 1902, the lifting of the siege of Mafikeng was a significant victory for the British because they held out against a larger Afrikaner force for 217 days until reinforcements could arrive. The rejoicing in British cities on news of the rescue produced “maffick,” a word that was popular for a while, especially in journalistic writing, but is now relatively uncommon.


back-formation from Mafeking Night, English celebration of the lifting of the siege of Mafeking, South Africa, May 17, 1900
First Known Use: 1900



Word Of The Day 5-7-2017




smack somebody with a fish


I cornobbled Jason with a trout.

I found little else about this word (except for mentions), but couldn’t toss it out because what language doesn’t need a word for smacking somebody with a fish?

I did find reference to cornnobble in “A glossary of dialect & archaic words used in the County of Gloucester. Edited by Lord Moreton” at https://archive.org/stream/glossaryofdialec25robeuoft/glossaryofdialec25robeuoft_djvu.txt

Anybody have any other information?

Word Of The Day 4-16/17-2017

honeyfuggle (honeyfogle; honeyfugle)

hon·ey·fug·gle \ˈhənēˌfəgəl\
Popularity: Bottom 30% of words
(third-person singular simple present honeyfugles, present participle honeyfugling, simple past and past participle honeyfugled)


To hoodwink, entice by flattery

To swindle, dupe, cheat or trick

To flatter or cajole; esp. to flatter or cajole one’s sweetheart or an attractive woman so as to gain sexual favor or make her forget anger or displeasure.

To show affection in public.


perhaps from honey + English dialect fugel to cheat, trick

First Known Use: 1829


“Don’t try to honeyfuggle me, Wolf McCloud. I’m not pretty, and we both know it.”
Jane Bonander; Wild Heart; Pocket Books; 1995.

His habit of ‘log-rolling,’ or, as the extreme Westerners call it, ‘honey-fugling’ for votes and support, had so grown upon him, that his sincere friends feared lest he would sink too low, and in the end defeat himself.

The modern practices in politics of . . temporizing with cranks, demagogues and tricksters instead of sending them to the rear; and of honey-fuggling with rascals instead of hitting them a death-blow between the eyes. –1887 Courier–Jrl. (Louisville KY) 7 May 4/4

Honeyfogling with a horse-thief, eh? –1898 Harte Stories in Light

Did You Know?

Among its last public appearances was one in the Syracuse Herald in 1934, in which President Roosevelt was described as “the prize honeyfugler of his time”. One of the reasons why it dropped out of common usage may have been that a sense grew up of sexual activity with young women (with fuggle being a modification of fuck), as a semi-euphemistic version of another, unambiguous, term.


Word Of The Day 4-12-2017


noun \ˈhelv\
Popularity: Bottom 20% of words


noun – handle of an ax, hatchet, hammer,or the like.
verb – (with available object)-helved, helving.  furnish with a helve.


See that the handle or “helve” is perfectly straight and true in line with the head and the edge.
Young Knights of the Empire : Their Code, and Further Scout Yarns

His hands were playing with a pickaxe helve, as if he longed to have me under it.
Lorna Doone

Out of curiosity, I lay down on the ice and looked through the hole, until I saw the axe a little on one side, standing on its head, with its helve erect and gently swaying to and fro with the pulse of the pond; and there it might have stood erect and swaying till in the course of time the handle rotted off, if I had not disturbed it.

Carpalin, this helve and this hatchet are well matched.
Five books of the lives, heroic deeds and sayings of Gargantua and his son Pantagruel

Presently two great miracles were seen: up springs the hatchet from the bottom of the water, and fixes itself to its old acquaintance the helve.
Five books of the lives, heroic deeds and sayings of Gargantua and his son Pantagruel


Middle English, from Old English hielfe; probably akin to Old English helma helm

First Known Use: before 12th century


Word Of The Day 3-27-2017




Popularity: Top 1% of lookups


  1. :  a braid of hair usually worn hanging at the back of the head

  2. 2:  a waiting line especially of persons or vehicles

  3. 3a :  a sequence of messages or jobs held in temporary storage awaiting transmission or processing  b :  a data structure that consists of a list of records such that records are added at one end and removed from the other.

Did You Know

Before it meant a line, a queue referred to the tail of a beast in medieval pictures and designs. The unusual spelling owes its origin to French, like many words that look a little odd in English. Prior to the Frenchification of queue, Latin spelled it simply as coda. The duplication of U and E often feels like waiting in line: once you think you are almost there, the queue magically seems to repeat itself.



late 15c., “band attached to a letter with seals dangling on the free end,” from French queue “a tail,”from Old French cue, coe “tail” (12c., also “penis”),from Latin coda (dialectal variant or alternative formof cauda) “tail,” of unknown origin. Also in literal usein 16c. English, “tail of a beast,” especially in heraldry.The Middle English metaphoric extension to “line ofdancers” (c.1500) led to extended sense of “line ofpeople, etc.” (1837). Also used 18c. in sense of “braidof hair hanging down behind” (first attested 1748).


“to stand in a line,” 1893, from queue (n.). Earlier“put hair up in a braid” (1777). Related: Queued ; queueing. Churchill is said to have coined Queuetopia(1950), to describe Britain under Labour or Socialistrule.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Word Of The Day 3-19-2017




1 a : haggle, exchange, barter

b : to bargain for

2 : (British) to exchange small talk : chatter


“And while Levy and Toriki drank absinthe and chaffered over the pearl, Huru-Huru listened and heard the stupendous price of twenty-five thousand francs agreed upon.” — Jack London, “The House of Mapuhi,” 1909

“Travelers who had little money to start with frequently traded a stock of wares of their own along the way—leather goods or precious stones for example—or offered their labor here and there, sometimes taking several months or even years to finally work or chaffer their way as far as Egypt.” — Ross E. Dunn, The Adventures of Ibn Battuta, 1986


Did You Know?

The noun chaffer was originally used to refer to commercial trading. Chaffer (also spelled chaffare, cheffare, and cheapfare over the years) dates to the 1200s and was formed as a combination of Middle English chep, meaning “trade” or “bargaining,” and fare, meaning “journey.” The verb chaffer appeared in the 1300s and originally meant “to trade, buy, and sell.” In time, both the verb and the noun were being applied to trade that involved haggling and negotiating.

Word Of The Day 3-11-2017


ob·nu·bi·late \äb-ˈnü-bə-ˌlāt, -ˈnyü-\
Popularity: Bottom 30% of word


1. To darken or obscure with clouds; becloud: a storm that obnubilated the sky.
2. To cause to be unable to think clearly; confuse: Superstition obnubilated their minds.
3. To make hard to understand or follow; obscure: an important idea that was obnubilated by poor writing.

Origin and Etymology

Latin obnubilatus, past participle of obnubilare, from ob- in the way + nubilare to be cloudy, from nubilus cloudy, from nubes cloud — more at ob-, nuance

First Known Use: 1583

Did You Know?

The meaning of obnubilate becomes clearer when you know that its ancestors are the Latin terms ob– (meaning “in the way”) and nubes (“cloud”). It’s a high-flown sounding word, which may be why it often turns up in texts by and about politicians. This has been true for a long time. In fact, when the U.S. Constitution was up for ratification, 18th-century Pennsylvania statesman James Wilson used obnubilate to calm fears that the president would have too much power: “Our first executive magistrate is not obnubilated behind the mysterious obscurity of counsellors…. He is the dignified, but accountable magistrate of a free and great people.”