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I haven’t done a ‘words’ entry in a while, which The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections refers to as ‘Box office poison”. They have a limited vocabulary and aren’t interested in learning more. The late Ann Marie A.K.A. Warrior Queen was found of them; I do them now in memory of her.

Newer Spo-fans should know I am forever gathering fancy atypical words the way some like to collect stamps or sea shells. Here’s a few I am presently working into my lexicon, hoping to use them some day in clever cocktail conversations that never seem to happen. Try using these in a email today.

Verbosity: [n.] the quality of being verbose or wordy; the use of too many words. Oh! How lovely! Can this be even possible?*

Nodus tollens: [n]. the realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore. Oh, what a word! Oh, what a concept!

Dilettante: [n.] a person having a superficial interest in something.

Suborn: [v.] to induce secretly to do an unlawful thing. This sounds not at all nice and jolly good fun at the same time. A good word to use when up to no good.

Tokimeku: [n.] Sometimes erroneously translated as ‘joy’, it is a small quickening of the heart and a smile that happens when you see or do something, like throw out some rubbishy thing, or the first sip of a hot beverage, or laying your eyes on a favorite memento.

Sparagmos: [n.] the act of tearing apart something (sometimes a person) in a Dionysian revelry. In a non-literal sense it means going at something without restrain or delicacy, such as consuming a bag of potato chips with onion dip. Oh the embarrassment.

Rhathymia: [n.] carefree behavior; light-heartedness. I think it is a positive not a pejorative.

Hircine: [adj.] of, relating to, or resembling a goat. I like goats. Apparently this is more about the smell of such lovelies, and isn’t a ‘positive’ thing.

Nimptopsical [adj.] Intoxicated. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who made this one up. He has 200 words/expressions for such. Look it up sometime; it’s cute.

*You bet your knickers it’s possible.

Note: I haven’t written a ‘words’ entry in a while, much to the relief of The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections. When I blog I avoid derisory topics like politics, religion, and Swedish fish, but I do poke the grammar bear from time to time. Spo.

In every relationship, the drama personae have convictions and each actor knows they are right about a topic. No matter what the other tries to do to persuade the other they are wrong this falls flat. It is hoped these intransigent beliefs are limited to small things and they do not lead to fisticuffs, bloodshed or murders. Words sometimes border on the dangerous. This is especially true over their definition or usage. Someone and I are both curious about words and their usage. On Fridays we listen to “Grammar Girl”, sometimes approaching her like two quarrelsome plaintiffs going before Judge Judy, hoping she will declare I am right about a word and he is wrong. Often there is no clear or correct definition/use of a word, worse luck! It is a disappointment. There is a large dose of prescriptivism in me that likes proper clear definitions and use of words. I am not a Grammar-nazi*. Rather, I am a member of The Guardians of the Grammarly.

I thought I would write and share some definitions. These are not opinions, but truth. Do not dare to question this. Thems who say otherwise are itching for a fight.

Continually vs. continuously. Both mean something that is ongoing happening. Continual implies there are breaks in the event, while continuous the matter happens ‘nonstop’. The showerhead drips continually; the lightbulb is continuously on.

Podium vs. lectern. One stands on the podium; one talks at the lectern. Podium stems from the Latin word for foot; lectern derives from the Latin word to read.

Dose vs. dosage. A dose is the amount of medicine; the dosage is the frequency it is taken. I take Valium at a dose of 5mg; the dosage is three times a day as needed.

Martini vs. all the others passing as such. I expect, nay I demand!, when I order a martini the bartender should ask me ‘yes sir, what sort of gin?” and not ‘Is that with vodka?” or ‘do you want vermouth in that?’ Oh the horror. Martini (n.): a cocktail made from gin and vermouth. All the other types are “(noun modifier) martinis.”

As I am on the topic of cocktails……

Aperitif vs. cordial. Aperitifs derive from ‘to open”; they are something you serve before a meal, usually with an appetizer. Cordials are served after dinner, with dessert or as such. Cordials tend to be heavy, sweet, and prep you for sleep after consumption – like my men.

Holland vs. The Netherlands. Holland is a region within the country called The Netherlands. In fact there are two regions of Holland, North and South Holland. All Hollanders are from The Netherlands, but not all Netherlanders are Hollanders.** Similarly, thems that are British are not all English.

Back to words now……

E.g. vs. i.e. These are not interchangeable. I have to keep looking them up to remind myself which does watch, as they are different. E.g. means “for example” and i.e. means roughly “in other words.” The Oatmeal has a fun post on the topic.

Mass vs. weight. Mass is substance; weight it the force mass has in the presence of gravity. One can be weigh less on the moon with its lower gravity, or even be weightless in space, but one still has the same mass. I am working on my weight but really I am trying to diminish my mass – particularly the mass in my abdomen area.

Temerity vs. effrontery. Both have boldness to them, but with a difference. Temerity lacks knowledge of one’s actions, a boldness that is somewhat stupid. The ten year old had the temerity to challenge his teacher to a spelling contest. Effrontery has a conscious element of causing mischief or upset. The man had the effrontery to address his senator (whom he doesn’t like) as ‘hey, babe’.

Do you have any words you opine have distinct differences not to be messed with?

* this is a despicable term that should not be used. Period. End of discussion.

**My maternal grandmother’s family, the Timmermans, originate from Friesland. They took great pains to point out they were not Hollanders. It seems no matter where you come from, you don’t want to be mistaken for coming from somewhere else.

I haven’t done a ‘wicked words” entry in a while. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections loathes them, calling them ‘blogger box-office poison”. Pish posh, I say. Spo-fans know I am crackers for whimsical words, so what the hell. Spo

On Thursday nights while sitting at the bar during happy hours I use that time to learn words I’ve managed to pick up along the way. This is actually a stupid thing to do; trying to do lessons while downing one or two cocktails doesn’t bode well for the limbic system laying down memories. All the same, it is jolly good fun and it gives me something to do. Here’s a few I am working getting into ‘my muscle memory’; try using some in an email this week. The formal definitions are in black; my own are in blue.

Akrasia – (n): the lack of will or self-control resulting in one acting against one’s better judgment.

The emotional state of eating a bag of nasty chips.

Appetency – (n): a fixed or strong desire.

The emotional state evoked from potato chips and tub of onion dip

Clyster – (n): an old-fashioned word for an enema

The sensation of being screwed such as felt after a difficult day

Coronacoaster – (n); the emotional highs and lows resulting from covid19 news and what not.

A synonym for watching the news.

Kalsarikannit (n): a Finnish word for being alone at home, drunk, lounging in your underwear.

Synonym for Saturday evening or that certain uncle we don’t like to talk about.

Monachopsis (n): the subtle persistent feeling of being out of place, being maladapted to your surroundings.

Monger – (n): a seller or merchant of something. Fishmonger for instance.

Nimtopsical (adj): being a tad intoxicated

Obstreperous (adj): noisily upset or defiant; making a great outcry.

Phamatasmagoria (n): a bizarre or fantastic combination or assemblage.

Roborant – (adj): having a strengthening or restorative effect, like a medicine.

or a dry Manhattan, no rubbish

Stelliferant – (adj): full of stars or starlight.

As a boy I was intrigued by certain countries, especially if they had a robust culture of fairy-folk and monsters. My intrigue with Scotland, for example, was based on them having the Loch Ness Monster. My lifelong fascination with Japan was kindled by ‘monster week’ on the 430PM movie (oh the embarrassment!). As a ten-year-old I was spellbound by Godzilla.* I didn’t know anything else about The Land of the Rising Sun other than it had bad-ass monsters and it was full-up with spirits and demons.** Since then I’ve tried to learn the land that is behind the schlock. This didn’t diminish my desire to see the place but enhanced it.  

I suppose my fascination with Japan rests mostly on its deemed differences to my up bring. Compared to the dreariness of the Midwest, Japan was exotic and it beat what we got here.  The music (which I love), the customs, the mentality – it all fascinates me.

Oh! I would love to learn the language! The Japanese language has many lovely words and expressions, some I have borrowed to use in my ever-expanding lexicon (and no-doubt use incorrectly):

Boketto: to gaze vacantly into the distance without thinking.

Danshari: to clean out the clutter for a spiritual and physical well-being.

Hikikomori: folks who have withdrawn into their own little worlds, who are only in contact with others through technology.

Karoshi: a death from working too much.

Nodogoshi: a good feeling in the throat (as in tasty food: see photo of the ramen)

Omakase: to entrust, as in “I will leave it to you”. This is said to bartenders or barbers or waiters whom you trust will give what you would like.

Shikata ga nai: ‘it cannot be helped’ or ‘nothing can be done about it”.  

Shinrin-yoku: ‘forest bathing’  meaning a walk in the forest for health’s sake.

A friend of mine lived in Japan for a decade and I could kick myself for never going while he was there. I long to go and see this dreamy and enchanted land – if only to wipe out my probably erroneous beliefs about the place. 

Until the happy day arrives when I actually go there I am learning its history and customs and conventions.  I found on YouTube a young man who is teaching folks like me about Japanese living.  I got his permission to post his link:



I wonder if the Japanese are quite fed-up with Godzilla. It is one of the first questions I ask when I get there.



*The official name for Godzilla et. al. is Kaiju.

**These are the Yokai.  

All right – I am mending from a nasty bout of food poisoning and the angst of the election is waning so I am as at-ease and open for some topic that is inspiring and profound.  Alas, I got nothing. The Muses are away counting ballots in Georgia.  As I am an amateur etymologist I will bore you with the psychology of chit-chat. 

Tomorrow we go to the grocery store. Our favorite cashier, Denise, does a fine job with proper social chat. She always asks ‘how’s it going?” and I reply “not too bad” and then we talk about something not too personal nor deep while she rings up our purchases. I avoid Robert  who when greeted with “good morning’ tells me why it is NOT a good morning either with complaints or personal news that I did not ask about – what nowadays is nicknamed “too much information”.

When we meet people we don’t really ask or want to know how they actually doing (at least not right now) yet we use words to suggest such like howdy, how’s it going, what’s up, and how are ya. These are not genuine inquiries into another’s health but phatic expressions. Phatic expressions are speech terms used to express or create an atmosphere of shared feelings, goodwill, or sociability rather than to impart information. They are like verbal handshakes we use to connect with others and make ready for proper talk. 

In my line of work this can be ticklish as patients expect me to ask how they are doing but nevertheless they need to discriminate a phatic greeting from the genuine business of the appointment. This doesn’t always happen. Some are like Robert the cashier: I will start with how are you and get a earful only to stop them until I am actually ready for such. 

Phatic expressions differ in culture. My Scottish patient tells me when she hears ‘what’s up?” for her this is not a phatic expression but a genuine inquiry if there something the matter and it bewilders her how to respond.  She tells me thems in the UK use the phatic expression “you all right?” which sounds to me like an inquiry into my welfare. 

Phatic expression change with time. I am over forty so the return expression for “thank you” is “you’re welcome”. Thems under forty tend to use ‘no problem’. Ugh. For youngsters this a phatic expression while for me this is impolite and as awful sounding as fingernails on a chalkboard.

You would think it would save time to dump phatic expressions and just ‘get to the point’ but human beings are not direct. Language doesn’t just communicate but forms a bond and allows people to negotiate, especially when roles and boundaries are not yet certain. 

I look forward to seeing Denise and asking her “how’s it hanging?” which in turn will get the response ‘not bad” and off we go into not much until our groceries are packaged. I will thank her young assistant doing the bagging, who in turn will say ‘no problem’ and I will try not to bellow. 

Thank you everybody for your kind words of support in yesterday’s entry. Sometimes I am lost for words – but that’s OK as I am constantly learning new ones!  Seasoned Spo-fans know I collect fancy and fustian words like some collect seashells or cruet sets. Getting grandiloquent words to stay put in my pumpkin requires practice.  Friends and loved ones soon spot I am trying out a new word as it will appear several times in a conversation.

Here’s a handful I am trying to get into my muscle memory, many apropos for the times:

Bonzer – [adj]: first rate.  Bonzer replaces ‘cool!” in my vocabulary.  It spits out well.

Butyraceous – [adj]:  something having the characteristics of butter, either in taste or texture. It is also good as a fancy word for ‘buttering me up”.   “I am rawther tired of his butyraceous phone calls to get me to donate money to his campaign.”

Clyster –  [noun]: an old fashioned word for an enema. It was once a popular word starting in the late Middle Ages and I think it is worth reviving. It is less vulgar than saying: “Well that was a f-ck up!”   “What a clyster THAT was!”

Eidolism – [noun]: the belief ghosts a real. It is quite timely for Halloween.

Embonpoint – [adj]: plumb, or perhaps a bit more than that. It is better than saying  one is “Rubenesque” or a “Jabba the Hutt”.

Fudgel – [verb]:  Someone recently took a job at the city working as a temp handling calls about the election. He is a good worker and he has good work ethics.  His fellow temp workers? – not so much. To fudgel is “pretending to work when you’re not actually doing anything at all.”

Myrmidon – [noun]: A person or group of people who follow and obey a powerful person or authority even when this means doing bad.

Hot puppies! What a fabulous word!  I use it around certain people as it is spot-on accurate and there is an element of mirth as they cannot tell if this a compliment or an insult and they daren’t ask ‘what does myrmidon mean?’ Better yet they pretend they do know. “Damn proud too!” What does myrmidon mean? they don’t respond well.

Pixilated – [adj]:  to be mildly tipsy in a whimsical way.  It’s a stage below being just plain stinko or nimptopsical another jolly word for consuming dry Manhattans with lemon twist no rubbish.

Ructions  – [noun]: A riotous disturbance; a noisy quarrel.  I recently read the very funny book  “The good soldier Svejk”, a satire on WWI. This nitwit private often informs his superior officers “Begging your pardon, sir, but if that happens there will be ructions”.

Schnapsidee – [noun]: a German word for a brilliant idea or scheme realized when pixilated  – but later on in more sober moments it doesn’t look that good anymore.

Sisu –  [noun]: an extraordinary determination in the face of extreme adversity, and courage that is presented typically in situations where success is unlikely. It expresses itself in taking action against the odds, and displaying courage and resoluteness in the face of adversity; in other words, deciding on a course of action, and then adhering to it even if repeated failures ensue.  Bonzer!

Troglobite  – [noun]: a cave dwelling animal that never sees daylight.  Another word apropos for the times.

Wasuremono – [noun]. This is a Japanese word.  It literally means a lost object, but there are implications the lost object keeps being lost but it seems damned determined to stay that way.  I wonder if Japan has an equivalent of The Cup Fairies and The Car key Gnomes.

I wonder what my grandmothers would think about my writing style. They both had a watchful criticism when it came to prose. My maternal grandmother was the one for style and penmanship while Father’s mother was a stickler for prescriptive grammar. They were not ‘grammar Nazis’ * ; they saw the English language (especially in written form) as something with decorum and rules. Neither one of had to deal with today’s ubiquitous keyboard typing let alone texting.  My work prose and my off-work prose have separate protocol when it comes to grammar, punctuation, and what-not.

At work while the patients talk I take notes. I am a whiz (or is that wiz?) of a typist. This works well as I use short cuts and such that would make both grandmothers raise a skeptical eyebrows in chorus and create looks like they just sucked on some lemons. In my work notes long words are seldom used when short ones will do. Spo-fans know I adore grandiloquent and fustian words preferring them to common everyday types but these take more time to type and spellcheck often mangles them forcing me to go back to fix them creating even more time delay. Fancy medical terms and words like borborygmus and diapedesis aren’t used;  gas and swelling are. Abbreviations are used in lieu of proper words. Medication is often typed as Rx; dyspnea as “SOB” (shortness of breath).

My paternal grandmother would disapprove of the notion of separate grammar types viz. what is considered abomination in one area (such as letter-writing) is OK/acceptable in progress notes. I often use chopped sentences separated by space not by periods. Progress notes often resemble something out of Joyce’s Ulysses (the worst chapters).   These notes get an ‘A” for content but an “F” for proper syntax, grammar, and elegance.** I sense my matriarchs  wouldn’t like templates, nor would they approve of today’s mania for exclamation points ubiquitous in emails and texts. They were highly suspect of exclamation points which they thought was rough and shouting-like. Compare these two text messages:

Thanks for you feedback!

Thanks for your feedback.

I would have to explain ” !” is now used for conveying sincerity not for excitement. I doubt they would like that.

Sometimes when I a scribbling out a blog-entry I pause to remember this is not a progress note. I can – and should – use proper sentences with the necessary punctuation.*** The spirits of both grans hover as I write, ascertaining what comes out of me is proper and elegant (or at least not ‘’common”).

I wrote this with a pause to see my first patient of the day. He’s a fine fellow well over four feet. It was curious to see my brain shift from writing back to my ‘progress note prose’ so different and back again. That’s the main point for the ghosts of my grandmothers: there are different writing styles depending on the situation. Each has its own set of rules just please don’t mix them up. I think they would understand this. One doesn’t wear a suit to a soccer game and one doesn’t show up to church looking like you’ve just come in from working in the yard.****

Just don’t use exclamation points!



*How I loathe that expression! I prefer the term “Guardians of the Grammar-xy” of which I am a card-carrying member.

**At least everything is spelled properly. Both grandmothers were certain of proper spelling.

***She is not my grandmother but I envision “Mommie Dearest” shouting “No dangling participles EVER!”

****Unless you are Catholic.


One of the reasons for  the English language being a success as a “universal language” is its acceptance of new and foreign words into its lexicon. Ironically the countries that have English as their predominant language are now trying to build laws and walls to exclude non-English types with their heathen lesser tongues. I can’t vouch for the efficacy of the laws and the walls but I can assure their attempts to keep English ‘pure’ will be futile. English will always grow and evolve and become unrecognizable as today’s English would be to Chaucer’s.
Here are some interesting words I am trying to incorporate into my ever-growing grandiloquent lexicon. I hope I have these down pat in time for Palm Springs.

Avoirdupois (n): a bit of fat tissue making one look overweight. “Dear me, Stevie is a tad avoirdupois since we year, no?”

Desultory (adj): lack of direction or definite plan. “You all go hike the canyons I plan to spend the day at poolside doing desultory nothings.”

Esculent (adj): edible. “Sitting here at poolside I see several esculent items I’d be willing to sample.”

Footle (v): to talk or act foolishly; to waste time. “While you were hiking the canyons I footled around the poolside. “
Groke (v): to look at somebody while they are eating hoping that they will give you some of their food. “I groked that guy over there the one with the Doritos but he didn’t give me anything.”
Leveret (n): a young hare is its first year.  “It’s nice to see the resort full up not just a old guys but some leveret lads.
Mon juste (n): the exactly right word or phrasing. “During happy hour I plans to bedazzle the boys with my mon juste and Attic wit. “

Natter (v): chatter excessively. “Or so I hope  I will probably just natter. “

Piquant (n): having a pleasant sharp taste. “The happy hour bourbon here is rawther piquant. Excuse me I will be right back I’m fetching the Dalmore.”

Profligate (adj): recklessly extravagant or wasteful use of resources. “While you were hiking the canyons  I spent a profligate morning groking and nattering and footling around. No I did not have any Dalmore.”

Rictus (n): a fixed grimace or grin. “The Botox looks to have set his face in quite the rictus.” 

Superincumbent (n): lying on something else. “While you were away hiking the canyon I was superinumbent for hours I didn’t move one bit wipe that rictus off your face.”

Spo-fans occasionally ask me if I prefer being addressed as Dr. Spo rather than Spo; do I want nay demand my title be used and recognized? The usual answer is you can call me anything so long as you don’t call me late for dinner.  I have little need or interest in being addressed as ‘Doctor’ outside of work. At work it is different.  There I prefer being called Dr. Spo but this due to my fondness for proper manners not proper titles. I dislike calling my patients by their first name so I use Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. or whatever and I hope they do likewise. [1]

I despise immediate first name familiarity often used these days by brazen telemarketers, waiters, and young people. ‘Mister’ is what’s required by these sorts unless I give permission otherwise which is not often.

Someone and I as a set can be a bit ticklish. When we are out and about I don’t use “Doctor and Mister” nor “Doctor and Mrs. Doctor”. I adore the old-style two gentlemen caller plural “The Messers” which makes us “The Messers Spo and Someone”. Alas Babylon! No one uses this pre-Cambrian title anymore more’s the pity. I have to just hope people have the proper manners to reciprocate my self-introduction ‘We are Someone and Spo” with the proper ‘It’s nice to meet you Mr. Someone and Mr. Spo”. [2]

One of the drawbacks of using Dr. Spo in public is it inevitably gets the question “what sort of doctor are you?”.  I say “The P word” and the questioner either starts telling me their woes or they run away or tell my what’s wrong with my profession. [3]

Women have it worse off (don’t they always?) when it comes to titles. I recently learned some countries have banned the “Miss” equivalences like ‘senorita” “fraulein” and “mademoiselle” so all women are “Senora” “Frau” and “Madame” regardless of age or marital status. I like Ms. as convenient to ‘cover all” like Mr. does.  I also recently discovered there are new titles for folks  who are trans or sexually uncertain or just not thinking it was anyone’s business.  It’s all a bit confusing.  On the other hand one needed worry about what title to use if you use your words and ask the person in front of you “How do you wish to be addressed?”.  Just don’t use my flippant often-used response of “God Emperor”  as you will no doubt get dirty looks – worse than if you had said you are a psychiatrist.


[1] Work is a bit awkward the staff call me Dr. Spo but they want to be addressed by their first name. I still call them Mister or Ms. or Mrs. trying to keep things at the same level of formality. They find this amusing: they think I am being British.

[2] Fat chance of that.

[3] They like to tell me what is wrong. If I play along I put on my more obvious “I am analyzing this” demeanor and reflect back something guaranteed to make them nervous.

I haven’t written a ‘word’ entry in a while so here’s one……

Sometimes when Someone asks me something I reply in a double negative using a comic voice to let him know the grammar mistake is intentional.

I don’t have no energy to cook; let’s order out. 

As a novice to the Order of Guardians of the Grammar-xy I took to heart the prescriptive rule one does not use ‘double negatives’. To do so was a sign of poor education and low class and you were a member of a bowling club and (from a mathematical point of view) double-negatives turn the statement into a positive, the opposite of what the speaker wants to illustrate.

I didn’t want no mayo on my sandwich.

Mick Jagger committed an egregious error when he sang “I can’t get no satisfaction’. Rather he should have said “I can’t any satisfaction’  which of course isn’t as sonorous or as good a rhythm. I sense Mr. Jagger (always the maverick) is thumbing his nose at his naughty defiance of proper grammar in his lyrics.

I smell a rat. As a boy I figured the more negatives I added gave descriptive emphasis of my disdain.  I was disappointed I could not do so. 

I don’t want no mayo on no sandwich no time never.  

Later in life I learned the no-double-negative rule is a relatively new ‘law’ and using as many ‘negs’ as one needed was once upon a time standard English. In “The Canterbury Tales” Mr. Chaucer describes the Knight (translated from the Old English):

He never yet no villainy no said in all his life and to no manner wight (person). 

This is a – wait for it – a quadruple negative! Mr. Chaucer is emphasizing Mr. Knight was just that virtuous. 

If numerous negatives are good for Mr. Chaucer and Mr. Jagger (fine fellows well over four feet) it is good for me.  It’s time to bring back the multiple negatives if just for the fun of it. It may not be prudent to use in certain situations but they are jolly good fun.  

Tonight at happy hour I plan to order a martini:

Please don’t put no double olives in that no time.

Prescriptive grammar rules may vary but manners are always. 

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September 2022

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