Archive for New-to-me Words

Not, in Fact, Related to Tile

As a middle-aged person with teenagers, I occasionally run up against language that Kids These Days are using.  Yesterday, I learned “groutfit” when another mom posted on Facebook that her son came home wearing someone else’s shirt: he was mocked for wearing a groutfit, so he traded shirts with a friend. A “groutfit” is a […]

arsy-tansy, revisited

Back in 2012, I wrote an entry about encountering the word arsy-tansy in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, and discovering that that term didn’t exist anywhere else. Just now, I came across the word arsy-versy in an Anthony Boucher story, “The Chronokinesis of Jonathan Hull.” (“The disturbingly arsy-versy normal world…”) It turns […]


Standover tactics require a standover man. Or a standover woman, of course. A standover person of any kind. Or perhaps a standover kangaroo would do, I'm not sure about all of these antipodean nuances.


My dictionary says that shagreen is a kind of untanned leather (by which it presumably means rawhide), or “the rough skin of various sharks and rays.” Wikipedia says that shagreen is a kind of rawhide, from a horse or a shark or a ray. (I’m paraphrasing.) Both indicate that the word derives from the French […]


According to Wikipedia: “Corvée […] is a form of unpaid, unfree labour, which is intermittent in nature and which lasts limited periods of time: typically only a certain number of days’ work each year.”


According to Wikipedia: “Mokume-gane […] is a Japanese metalworking procedure which produces a mixed-metal laminate with distinctive layered patterns[…]. Mokume-gane translates […] to ‘wood grain metal’ [because metal so treated] takes on the appearance of natural wood grain.”

Limerick myths

Recently tried to search for the origin of the following limerick: The limerick, peculiar to English Is a verse form that's hard to extinguish Once Congress in session Decreed its suppression But people got around it by writing the last line without any rhyme or meter. Which led me to a page of Limerick Myths, […]