Tuesday, January 29, 2013



This is mainly a British word, and it means a small metal cup or pan.  The word has been around since at least 1823.  It's not used much these days because now people have cups made of all sorts of other things such as china and plastic.  But if you are reading 19th-century English novels, like Mom keeps doing, you might run into the word pannikin.


If you rangle, it means you are running around in a weird and irregular way.  Of course, nobody really talks about rangling much anymore because the word is mostly obsolete.  Which is a shame because it is a perfectly good word that describes what my doggy brothers do sometimes in the back yard.

Rangle also means the little stones that hawks swallow to help their stomachs grind up and digest their food.  Chickens swallow little stones for this same reason, but it's not called rangle, it's called chicken grit.


This word has been around a very long time, like since 1350 or so.  It means "humiliating treatment, a display of contempt, scorn, rudeness, or insulting language."  Contumely seems like it should be an adjective, but it's really a noun, and I think this is confusing.  Also, the accent is on the first syllable, or at least that is the preferred way to say it.  The second-best way is to put the accent on the second syllable.  Mom had totally the wrong idea about what this word means and how to pronounce it, so I'm glad I was able to straighten her out on this!


This is the name for those tall, round hats that Greek Orthodox priests wear.  They look sort of like top hats, except without the brim.  Russian Orthodox priests wear them, too, but the Russian word is kamilavka. The priest wears this hat during services, and at other times he wears a softer hat called a skufia.  Different ethnic groups use different colors of hats.


Wadmal is a thick, coarse wool fabric that used to be worn in the British Isles and in Scandinavia to keep warm.  Now more people have furnaces, so I guess they don't wear as much wadmal.  Which is too bad, because wadmal is a fun word to say!


If you are standing around with your mouth hanging open, you have a rictus, because a rictus is a gaping mouth.  This word is often used to describe a bird's mouth, but it can also be a person's mouth.  Dogs have their mouths open a lot, with their tongues out, but this is usually called panting or drooling, and not rictus.

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