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Finally: Clothes for REAL women!

Or women like me, anyway. (Although I’d really like some big OED-on-CD-ROM hoop earrings to go along with this little get-up.)

Today’s Word: Piebald

Piebald (PYE-bahld) means “patched or spotted, particularly in black and white,” as on an animal. Piebald is from pie, an old word for magpie, the name of a bird with that kind of coloring. The bald in piebald alludes to white fur, hair, or feathers, on the head (as in a bald eagle). They’re also more…

Word for the Day: Scacchic

All kinds of scacchic thrills and chills here in San Diego right now, because the U.S. Chess Champion will be determined here this weekend. Oh, and scacchic? It means “of or pertaining to chess.” Pronounced “SKACK-ick,” it’s from the Italian word for “chess,” scacchi. May the player with the best scacchic skills win!

And Speaking of Speed Bumps

Just remembered another term for those teeth-rattling interruptions in the road: chatter bumps (not to be confused with goose bumps, of course). As Double-Tongued Word-Wrester points out, a chatter bump is a “small depression in a roadbed, usually occurring in series and creating a corrugated or rippled surface.” Also known as a washboard.

Today’s Word: Anserine

Speaking of geese, if you want to describe something “goose-like,” you can always call it anserine. It’s from Latin anser, meaning “goose,” and is pronounced either “ANN-suh-ryn,” or “ANN-suh-rinn” (as in “I just left a message on your answerin’ machine”). Incidentally, Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defines cutis anserina as “a transitory localized change in the skin more…

Today’s Word: Horripilation

Speaking of hairy: Need a synonym for goose bumps? Try horripilation, (hoh-RIP-uh-LAY-shun), from Latin horripilare, “to bristle with hairs.” The “bristling” in horripilation is the linguistic kin of the “shaking, shuddering” words horror and abhor, while the hairy stem -pilat- in horripilation is related to that hair-remover also known as a depilatory. By the way, more…

Does “Bloody” Pass Your Personal Taste Test?

I’m not bothered by the word bloody, but it seems the Brits are. (Also, I hadn’t been aware of this use of the term fruity, which the OED says can mean “full of rich or strong quality; highly interesting, attractive, or suggestive,” sort of like “juicy” or “spicy.”) So, do you think bloody is too more…

Are We There, Yeti?

I’m so pleased that they’re referring to Kiwa hirsuta as the yeti lobster. I’d worried after seeing news reports saying the critter was “just shy of 6 inches long–about the size of a salad plate.” I mean, you remember what happened with the baby panda at Washington’s National Zoo. Reporters kept writing that he was more…

Another Shaggy Lobster Story

An even prettier pic of that hairy white homarine creature from National Geographic. Scientists have christened it Kiwa hirsuta, Kiwa being a Polynesian goddess of shellfish, and hirsuta, of course, being Latin for “shaggy.”

Today’s Word: Homarine

Is this the coolest-looking animal or what? French explorers just announced finding this blind, whitish crustacean at a depth of 7,540 feet some 900 miles south of Easter Island last year. All of which is a great reminder that if you need to describe, say, a strong handshake and want a synonym for “lobster-like,” the more…