Wednesday, February 26, 2014



Me, showing off my pulchritude.

This is kind of an ugly word to look at or say, but it actually means "physical beauty."  Go figure.  So if someone is beautiful, you can say that they are pulchritudinous, which sounds very impressive.  For example, I am a pulchritudinous little chihuahua girl.

The word came from Latin, and its first known use was in the 15th century.


Coal Dust

You will mostly hear this word in Scotland or Northern England.  It refers to a lot of yucky stuff such as soot, coal dust, smut, grease, sawdust, or dust from a gristmill.  You can also spell it coomb.

This word dates back to the 16th century.


The Crystal Ball
by John William Waterhouse, 1902

To scry is to foretell the future using a crystal ball or something else that is reflective or translucent.  Things that can be used for scrying include stones, crystals, glass, mirrors, water, fire, or smoke.  Many cultures have believed that scrying could provide visions of the past, present, or future.  These visions might come from gods, spirits, devils, or the psychic mind.

Scry is a shortened form of descry.


Tyg, 1649, Lead-glazed Earthenware and Slip
Victoria and Albert Museum

A tyg was a large English pottery mug with two or more handles.  It was meant for several people to drink out of, with each using a different section between the handles.  Usually, these mugs were decorated with slip, which was a raised design made by sticking little pieces of clay onto the mug before it was fired.

People don't drink out of tygs anymore, but TYG is now used as an internet acronym that can mean either There You Go or Thank You, God.


A gabelle is a tax, and most especially, it was the tax that was imposed on salt in France before 1790.  The French people got so angry about this tax -- and about some other stuff -- that they started the French Revolution in 1789.

Originally, gabelle included taxes on all sorts of commodities, but after a while, it was only the tax on salt.  This tax was very unfair and unequal, so that's why the French people got rid of it in 1790.  Napoleon brought the gabelle back in 1806.  The French Second Republic abolished it again, briefly, but the gabelle did not go away for good until 1945.

The word came into Old French from the Old Italian gabella, which came from the Arabic word qabala, meaning "a tribute."


A Cracker Cowboy
Frederic Remington

This word means "to cry like a cowboy."  What is different about the way cowboys cry?  I have no idea!


If you have the woofits, you are feeling yucky.  Maybe you have a hangover, a headache, or feel depressed.

Personally, I think this word would be a good one to use to describe dogs who just can't stop barking, which is how my brother Tristan gets sometimes.  But I did not find this definition in any of the sources I looked at, unfortunately.


To whelve something means to hide it under a rock or a turned-over dish or some such thing.  Whelve can also mean to bury something.  Dogs bury stuff all the time, but usually they bury it in a hole in the dirt, which I guess is not exactly whelving.  But sometimes a dog buries something under a pillow or sofa cushion, and I think that probably meets the definition.

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