Posted in September 2011


Ooh, don’t you just love that word? It means fussy or finicky. And isn’t that exactly what persnickety sounds like? It’s not an onomatopoeia, but it sounds like one to me. I had occasion to use it in conversation recently and felt very pleased with myself. When I hear it I can almost hear my … Continue reading

Beat a Tattoo

What I like about this phrase has less to do with the phrase itself, and more with the memory of when I first came across it. If you’ve never heard, beat a tattoo before, it may evoke a bizarre violent connotation. But once you know it’s meaning, it’s a whole different story. I first read a derivative … Continue reading

En Croute, Grape, Sockets

Our family likes to make up words. If you’ve been a reader of my other blog, Salgrunkshire for any length of time this isn’t news to you. That blog name itself was inspired by my brother, Jim (you can read about that here). His tradition (I prefer to think of it that way instead of … Continue reading

Any Road

This one’s a bit different. I just came across the phrase any road to mean “anyway” in a book set in the Lake District (an area in North West England). The book is The Hanging Wood by Martin Edwards. When I first read it I paused, thinking I hadn’t understood. I saw it again in another part of the … Continue reading

Ground Zero

I feel I’ll forever think of the events of September 11, 2001 when I hear the phrase, ground zero. I wasn’t familiar with it prior to that. But while listening to language expert Ben Zimmer on NPR’s Talk of the Nation today, I learned it’s been in use since the 1940’s (with respect to Hiroshima). … Continue reading


While watching the BBC mystery series Midsomer Murders last night, I heard another word I just like the sound of, tetchy. If can be believed, it was introduced by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet, in 1592. I’ve not heard it used by Americans, so I guess this one has mainly stayed in the land … Continue reading


I’m thrilled with the response to the blog so far. My mom commented the following on Facebook, “One of my favorite words is compassion. I like the way it sounds when you say it. I think it should be in the marriage vows. I love that there is a lot of it in my world. I … Continue reading

Betwixt and Between

As I was reading Jacqueline Winspear’s novel, Maisie Dobbs this week, I ran across the phrase betwixt and between. I’ve heard it before, but not recently. What a delightful little phrase. Doesn’t it have a magical ring to it? It means midway between two things or neither one thing or another. You could say it means … Continue reading


Crusty crabs, crumbly crumbs from deep fried shrimp, a clear blue ocean. That’s what I think of when I see the word crustacean. It almost seems like two opposites: something crusty and dry and something light and wet. Do you like the word? What does it make you think of?


Isn’t that a great word? Say it slowly…esssssspionagggge. Well, that’s how I like to say it. It sounds like a secret. It’s a favorite word of my daughter’s and I quite like it too. When I say it I feel like a spy. I want to dress all in black and have a code name. … Continue reading