Posted in May 2012


Isn’t this a beautiful word? Unlike my previous bon mot, this one pleasantly rolls off the tongue. A sobriquet is an alternative name given to a person, place, or thing that often comes to be more widely used than the original name.  For example, calling New York City “The Big Apple” or referring to William … Continue reading


I read this word for the first time recently. Or maybe I only noticed it for the first time, but I feel I’d have remembered a word like pulchritude.  Do you know what it means? If not, pause and take a guess (no peeking!) To me, it sounds like a cross between puke and mulch. … Continue reading


“Hey you two, quit canoodling in the kitchen.” said my mother to my husband and I last weekend, when we stole a kiss while doing the dishes.  Isn’t that a wonderful word? I first heard it in the 1962 film, The Music Man. If memory serves, it was Buddy Hackett who was musing about canoodling.  … Continue reading


While watching Bones the other day, the word apothecary came up. I love the oldy worldy sound of that word. I feel it should be said with a posh British accent. And hearing it, I picture jars of pills, potions, and maybe eye of newt. Okay, not eye of newt. Did you know apothecary is … Continue reading


When I read the word piazza, I’m transported. Okay, that’s not completely true. Sometimes I misread the word as pizza. Which of course doesn’t make sense in the context of the sentence, and I quickly recover and read it correctly. At that point, I inevitably get a vivid image of a small wrought iron table, in a … Continue reading


While intuit doesn’t have any unique origins (that I could find), it’s a bon mot because of a recent usage I came across. Intuit means to know intuitively or by immediate perception. That kind of definition isn’t very satisfying. Really, when is it helpful to define a word using that word? Regardless, it all started with an article my … Continue reading


This word baffles me. When I hear nonplussed, I picture Sherlock Holmes with his arms crossed, a disinterested stare in his eyes, while Holmes stands by, awaiting a clever deduction. Then I think, no, that’s not right. And I look up the definition, only to find I did have it right. To be nonplussed is … Continue reading


I’ve been highlighting words right and left in “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese.  I’m still not sure if the book will make my list of favorites, but I’m learning a lot. For example, parsimonious. Though I don’t think I’d heard the word before, it sounded familiar. It made me think of parsing words. Which … Continue reading