Friday, January 13, 2017

How Rude - or then again, Perhaps Not!

I’ve been thinking about words that appear to be rude, but aren’t. Words you can use with impunity in front of your Great Aunt Bertha, knowing full well that, when she fans herself and reaches for the smelling-salts, you’ll be ready with the perfectly innocent definitions culled from For your convenience, I replicate them here:

adjective: Sick from excessive drinking or eating.
From Latin crapula (drunkenness), from Greek kraipale (hangover, drunkenness). Earliest documented use: 1540. Also crapulent.
Modern Usage: (Mother): All right, Timmy, go ahead and have another slice of cake; but don’t blame me if it makes you crapulous!
Bonus: We learn the Greek for a hangover: Kraipale. You never know when it may come in handy.

1. A sharp point or spike for holding a candle.

2. A male deer in its second year, before the antlers have branched.
Diminutive of prick/prik, from Old English prica (point). Earliest documented use: 1331.
Mod Use: “This pricket’s way too small – the candle keeps falling off!”

verb tr.:
1. To apply makeup.

2. To embellish or gloss over.

From Old French fard (makeup), from farden (to apply makeup), of Germanic origin. Earliest documented use: 1450.
Modern usage: “Will you please stop farding in the bathroom and come for breakfast?”

Cunctation - noun: Delay; procrastination; tardiness.
From Latin cunctari (to hesitate, delay). Earliest documented use: 1585.
Modern Usage: “Even as a baby he was given to cunctation: he’d wake me up at 2AM, but not to nurse; he’d just yawn three times and go back to sleep.”

Cock up – noun: Something going horribly wrong, e.g. this definition, which the computer stoutly refused to provide. Instead, I was treated to those infuriating whirling circles – definitely a cock up. And I can provide no “earliest documented use”, either.

Now, about those two bonus words I promised you. Here they are:

Bonus Word #1: verb: formicate, To swarm like ants.
Modern usage: At graduation, visitors beheld the campus covered with formicating students.

Bonus Word #2: absquatulate: verb: to make off with something.
Modern usage: “I say, that bounder just absquatulated with my cricket pads!”

Enjoy introducing your friends to these words – but don’t be surprised if you get a few strange looks along the way!

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