Sunday, August 28, 2011

MORE INTERESTING WORDS

It's time to get out the dictionary again and learn a few more words.  Or to look at some words we already know, and learn where they came from, which Mom seems to think is interesting, for some reason.  So here goes!








SUPERNUMERARY

If you are a regular part of a group, like for instance a club or an office staff or a wolf pack, you are a numerary.  But if you are brought into the group just for a little while, then you are a supernumerary.  So a temp worker would be a supernumerary, and a person who has a non-singing role as part of a crowd scene in an opera would be one, too.  Also if there is a ship, and some people are the crew that run the ship, but other people are maybe scientists who are on the ship to study whales or something, then the scientists would be supernumeraries.

There are other things that can be supernumeraries, too, such as nipples.  Sometimes people and other mammals have extra nipples.  They don't do the things that real nipples do, so they don't have any purpose except maybe to give you an interesting topic to talk about at a cocktail party.  I couldn't find much information about supernumerary nipples in dogs, but in humans they happen in about 1 male out of every 18, and in 1 female out of every 50.

Another thing that can be supernumerary is a rainbow, when it has some extra arcs of violet and green down below the regular arcs.



NOISOME

This word looks like it ought to mean "noisy," but it doesn't, so just forget I even mentioned the word "noisy."  What noisome really means is something that is yucky and smelly and disgusting.  A noisome object is offensive to the senses, especially the sense of smell.  It might even be harmful and unhealthy.  Of course, noisome is in the nose of the sniffer, so what a human thinks of as noisome might be the exact thing a dog would love to roll in.  A good example of this would be a rotten fish.

The word noisome dates all the way back to 1350 or 1400.  It came from the Middle English word noy, which means "harm."  This word is short for anoy, which comes from the Old French word anoier, "to annoy."



FLIVVER

Nobody knows exactly where the word flivver came from, but in the beginning, it meant something that was a flop or a failure.  Then in 1908, when the Model T Ford started to get popular, people called it a Tin Lizzie or a Flivver.  Maybe this was because the early cars didn't always work right, and people thought the idea of everyone driving automobiles would be a failure.  But then cars got better and better, and they had a price that many people could afford, which made them lots more popular.  Now most families have a car, and that's a good thing for dogs who like to go for car rides.

But the word flivver stuck around, although you don't hear it very often these days.  It is now slang for an old car that is small and cheap.  Also, a flivver can be anything that is badly made or inferior.



SKULLDUGGERY

I just think this is a funny-sounding word.  It makes me think of somebody in a graveyard at night, digging up bones.  But of course, the real meaning of skullduggery is that it's a deception or trick or something underhanded.  The best guess about the history of this word is that it came from the Scottish dialect word sculdudrie, which means "slipperiness and trickery."



FLOCCUS

This is what you call a little wooly tuft of hair.  Or it could be a fluffy, downy covering.  Floccus comes from the Latin, meaning "flock of wool."

You can also use the word floccus to describe a cloud that looks like it has wooly tufts in it.

Personally, I think it's the perfect word to use when you're talking about those funny tufts of hair on Chinese Crested dogs!


5 comments:

  1. I learned some new words today...so thanks Piper! The only word I had heard before was "skullduggery." I also think it sounds like someone working in a graveyard. I find words very interesting; especially how they actually started. I have lots of relatives in West Virginia, and they don't use different words as much as they do "sayings" that seem to have NO meaning...but I guess they do to those living in that area. I don't know why I wrote the previous sentence about "sayings" as that has nothing to do with todays blog, so guess I'm having another BLONDE day.
    Love AP

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  2. Dear Aunt Patty,
    I'm glad you liked my blog and that you learned some new words. I like sayings, too, because they are very interesting, and they can be really strange sometimes. I will have to write about some more sayings in my blog someday.
    Love, Piper

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  3. Piper- please don't tell my dogs this- but you have got to be the SMARTEST pooch I ever did meet. Your mastery of the English language is just astounding! ;) If Zeke ever heard me tell another dog they're smarter than him, he'd put on his hauty I'm-so-mad-at-you face and point his German Shepherd butt at me and lay down. That's what happens when he gets mad- he tried to offend me by showing me his rear. It's all pretty funny. Anyways- thought you might like to know that my cousin has a Ford car named Flivver! It was already "named" that by the sweet old lady he bought it from. I should say it runs really well though, and has taken us on many many wonderful roadtrips. Your blog is only the second place I've ever heard that word! :) Have a good weekend!
    Aunt Kerry

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  4. Dear Aunt Kerry,
    A lot of these words I don't know until I start researching them to put in my blog, so I don't know if this means I am smarter than your German Shepherd or not. But probably I am. Hahahaha! I like the word "flivver" just because it's fun to say. It's a great name for your cousin's car. Maybe the old lady he bought it from remembered the original flivvers.
    Your friend, Piper

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