One last chance to put words in your mouth
“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling
I remember as a young boy explaining to my mother that there were times I could actually perceive the personality of certain words. As any good mother should, she shook her head, took away my cough medicine and sent me to read in my room. To this day, however, my torrid love affair with words continues, so I’ve chosen a selection of recent discoveries and current favourites to share with you.
You may not find them in any dictionary, (and some aren’t even in English), but you may discover that they further your ability to say just the right thing in just the right way.
Destinesia: Have you ever run downstairs, walked into a room and had a wave of confusion wash over you? The likelihood of destinesia increases with age. It’s that sensation of knowing where you are but having absolutely no idea why you are there.
Treppenwitz: Don’t you hate it when you can’t come up with a smart reply on the spot? Trust the Germans to have a specific word for that frustrating feeling that overcomes you when you think of the perfect comeback but the moment has already passed. Treppenwitz means literally ‘stair-joke’ – as in you’re out the door and on your way downstairs when the perfect response dawns upon you.
Ballatroon: This 17th century word – derived from the Latin for “to prattle” – means a foolish or nonsensical person. I love the sound of this word and I feel it applies splendidly nowadays to many a nativist politician.
Askhole: Do you know anyone who puts aggressive, inane or inappropriate questions to you? Ever been cornered at a party by a close-talking chatterbox wanting to know if you were aware of a laundry list of trivial matters? Askhole is what you call someone who refuses to take the hint that you aren’t interested in their unwanted prying.
Masterdating: For those whose best performances sometimes occur when they are flying solo … there’s a word for that. Now you know what to call it when you go alone to a movie or treat yourself to a fine dining experience. You’re masterdating!
Bibacity: Another 17th century expression that appropriately rhymes with incapacity. Bibacity is my new preferred word for ‘outrageous drinking.’
Luggenpresse: If you haven’t heard it lately, I fear you will soon enough. Popularized in the 1930’s and making a comeback at certain gatherings, it’s German for ‘lying press.’
Moobs: Oxford Dictionary officially incorporated this one in 2016. It’s a smooth, if not elegant, combination of man and boobs and refers to the bane of the inactive video-game player and the middle-aged man – flabby man breasts.
Kalsarikannit: Leave it to the Finns to come up with this delightful word that perfectly describes what I’ll be doing more of now that I’m not facing any column submission deadlines. It means to drink at home alone in your underwear, with no intention of going out. The enlightened Finns have even created an emoji for Kalsarikannit. My new objective is to convince Sue to join me in this endeavour!