Dictionary Challenge Weeks 34-36: Lexical Synchronicity & Dick Whips

For six weeks I have been unable to read myself out of the remaining deficit. I have 50 pages to go before I am back at par and back on track to actually reading the whole Behemoth in one year’s time.

Which, by the way, is a deadline of March 16th, 2017.

It feels like, all of a sudden, that’s not very far off. I wouldn’t be lying if I told you I wished I was already on that 1815th page. But, I suppose, that is how things that take so much time and effort go. I’ve always been a destination person. I know that corny saying “It’s about the journey, not the destination” is true, but damn I have a hard time really living it. Every time I finish a challenge, a project, or even a book, I’m left with this small pocket of sadness; and yet, while I know this is coming, I can’t help but wish it were already here.

The danger with this type of thinking is that you’re always looking forward and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Because you’re always wanting what’s next, what’s to come, and you forget to appreciate the moment, the right here and right now. When this is all said and done, an entire year of my life will have passed. Not an insignificant amount of time, is it? I have done many things in addition to reading the dictionary… but I have also neglected a great many things as well. And this is where my stubbornness kicks in. I’m not much of a quitter. It’s not easy for me to walk away from things. If I say I’m going to do something, it feels like I don’t have a choice – I have to do it. So while I have thought about throwing in the towel many times, moving on, and focusing on new projects, my relationship, and my physical health… I am still here with my ever-present dictionary sidekick, watching the pages dwindle and March 16th approach.

As of late, I have been able to retain a better balance of life than a few months ago when I was spending upwards of two hours a day reading the Behemoth. So that’s been nice.


Let’s get to what you’re actually here for. The letter “P” is the third most word heavy letter of the alphabet, comprising a total of 147 pages of the dictionary. I have been reading words that begin with the letter “P” for over 3 weeks. So I think it’s only fair that when we jump into the words we start with pee. Yeah, yeah, everyone knows it means urinate. But the interesting fact of the day is… why? Well let me impart some dictionary knowledge upon you. We say we “gotta go pee” because pee is the written form of the letter “p” and “p” is the first letter of the word “piss.” So now you know.

My favourite word of the last three weeks is palooka which is what you’d call an oaf or a lout. Sorry… I don’t have any extra dictionary knowledge to drop on you about why for this one, other than that the origin is unknown. But doesn’t it sound fun? I think I might start using this as an endearing term for my sweetie. It has that kind of ring to it, doesn’t it? “I love you my sweet palooka.” I mean, if you can call your significant other a pookie, babe, big daddy, cuddle muffin, doodle bug, lambkins, shmoopsie poo – I could go on forever, here – I think palooka fits right in.

In a close second place is the word pendragon. This word describes a medieval beast that blasted ink from it’s nostrils.


Okay, fine. That was a lie. It’s actually a wordsmith who slays the competition with bad ass word configurations…. Sorry – that was a lie too. I really just want it to mean that. I love the word, but the definition is lame. It’s actually (I swear this is the truth this time) an ancient British or Welsh prince, often as a title. So, I mean, if I had the title of pendragon I’d feel pretty awesome, but I don’t and neither does anyone else… unless we all started to use it as in my second made up definition. Thoughts? Anyone? We could force it to mean a bad ass wordsmith – an ink breathing curator of infinite written talent!… Spitting out inky word-blots of sheer glory! Whose with me!? Can I get a robust “hell yeah!”?

Guess I’m all alone on that one. Ah, well, c’est la vie.

So for the sake of transparency, I’ll admit to you that I wrote everything up until this paragraph yesterday. This is important, because today something happened.

Let me tell you all about the geekiest moment of excitement I had today. This story really begins many a day ago when I read the word post-prandial in the dictionary and thought it was great because I didn’t know that there was a word for something “happening immediately after a meal.” I was also a touch disappointed because I would probably never use it since it really isn’t that common of a word. So I took a moment to appreciate it and then I moved on. Now fast forward to today. I was on the infallible internet doing my research on a product for work… and right there, in one review among hundreds, was the sentence:

… you can announce to your family, “That was vegan, you know,” as they’re laying down their forks in postprandial bliss.

Boomshakalaka! That’s lexical synchronicity right there. Was I just wondering why the hell I’m reading all these words, most of which I’ll never use/need/see again in my life? Was I getting a little down about this challenge? A little impatient? A little unappreciative? Maybe. But not anymore! You never know when some unsuspecting word like post-prandial is going to just jump up and bite ya. Or something like that.

And it’s those small moments of brilliance that act like a whisper in my ear, “keep going.”

Before I wind things up, I have a few other words that deserve mention. Like panleukopenia, which is a word workout for your mouth and means “feline distemper.” I really just included it because I will never use it again as it is the equivalent of running a marathon when you could just do a 5K and say your little critter has the “cat plague.” I don’t plan on ever running a marathon.

Another thing I have learned lately is that a pound cake is a rich cake originally made with a pound each of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. Another thing they could have called it was a heart attack. Seriously. That’s crazy.

And last, but certainly not least, I unfortunately have to make mention of one of the dictionary’s more messed up words. Okay, not so much the dictionary’s word but the actual thing itself. Now, I have been guilty of talking like a poser and uttering horrible things like, “what’s up in the hizzle? Let’s grab a bizzle.”

I just got really embarrassed typing that out. But it’s true. I’ve said both those lines… many times. I’m so ashamed.

Anyways. It’s this sloppy way of talking I sometimes engage in with my friends when we’re being dorks. However, I found a word in the Behemoth that sounds just like that: pizzle. At first glance it sounds funny, right? If my friends and I were to use it, it would be for something like, “I’m going to the bathroom for a pizzle.” That, however, is not the correct usage. At all. It’s actually “the penis of an animal, especially a bull, formerly used as a whip.”

So even though I thought a pound cake was ridiculous, this is straight up bizarre. Who uses a dick as a whip?? And on that horrible imagery, I’m going to leave you. Tune in next time to see where else the dictionary will take me…. If you think your ready for more strange and sometime wonderful and sometimes really, really horrible words.

Update: I googled pizzle. Apparently it’s a popular dog treat. Also, I don’t recommend googling it.

Week 34-36 Stats

Starting Word: Pacific dogwood                Ending Word: precipitate

Total Pages: 1220/1815                                Ahead/Behind: -50

Dictionary Challenge Week 18: D is for Done

You thought it would be another month before I got through the next letter, didn’t you? Sheesh. Ye of little faith. Just kidding. My track record hasn’t been quite up to snuff this go around. But guess whhhhhat?? This gal did it.

D is Done.

I still can’t breathe the sigh of relief that comes with being out of the red, but at least I don’t feel like quite as much of a loser as I have been the last while. Those of you who have been with me through my other challenges know that I take losing, failing, and being inadequate kind of hard. Sure, I’m an advocate for it being a necessary part of the journey to success, but it still puts the hurt on a person’s ego. Maybe that’s why I’m so humble…. Pfft.

Anyways! Slowly, steadily…. I’m coming for par.

Here are a few words that jumped out at me over my perusal of the D section of the dictionary:

Starting Word: developer                  Ending Word: empty

Total Pages 491/1815                         Ahead/Behind: – 144 pages

Dictionary Challenge Week Five: Knock off the Bafflegab

Good news! While I’m still behind, I’m no further behind than I was last week. Here’s to the start of the comeback. And I’ve also made it all the way through the As! Only 25 letters to go…

It’s been very hard to pick my top 5 each week. Some words roll off the tongue nicely, others mean something beautiful, still more have an interesting definition that sparks further thought on origins and relatedness to yet other words. Some just make me smile. Like Axilla. Don’t you picture a giant lizard wreaking havoc on downtown New York with a gargantuan-sized axe? No? Just Me? Either way, it means armpit.

Now that the appetizer is over with, here are my top five in no particular order:

  1. Arsenic hour – the period in late afternoon when youngsters become particularly cranky and unmanageable
  2. Arrabbiata – a pasta sauce of tomatoes, garlic, bell peppers, and hot peppers
  3. Assassin – a person who is hired to kill someone, usually for political or religious reasons
  4. Autumnal – past the prime of life
  5. Bafflegab – official or professional jargon which confuses more than it clarifies

Okay, before jumping into things, I’ve decided I have to give honourable mention to bada bing bada boom, bada boom bada bing. I love that this nonsensical phrase has legitimate merit.

Definion of bada bing bada boom

Now for the big guys.

Arsenic hour. I know some moms and pops out there who read that and were like YUP. I feel quite inclined to personally expand that definition and use the term for 6 am – the time of day when adults awaken and become cantankerous zombies before a hot brew turns them into human beings again.

Up above, I mentioned the words that roll of your tongue. Say arrabbiata out loud. Really purr it out. Now you have to admit – that’s some fun stuff right there. But it’s about more than the tongue roll; the word comes from Italian for ‘enrage’ which alludes to it’s spiciness. Anybody like me who finds themselves sucking back a glass of milk after a chance encounter with a jalapeno understands this connection of rage to mouth-on-fire spice. I’d really like to see someone tell their waiter, “I’ll have a caesar… with a lot of rage.” Well, maybe not. They’d probably get a black eye along with the drink and the waiter would just say, “that’s what you asked for.”

While I’m not into violence at all, I had to put assassin on the list this week. Again, not because of the actual definition, but because is comes from medieval Latin assassinus from Arabic hassas which means hash-eater since the medieval assassins were ‘reported to consume hashish to fortify themselves for action’. That’s right, folks. Your highly trained, professional killer is high as a kite. Maybe it helps with the guilt…

Although there are a few other definitions of autumnal, the one that reached out to me was the one above. It sounds so much nicer to say that you’re an autumnal woman rather than an old geezer. No one likes to admit when the prime of their life has passed and that death seems much closer than you ever thought it would be. But here you have this nice, easy-going word to make it seem alright that you’re growing older and can no longer throw a fastball or dance the boot scootin’ boogie like you used to. It’s going to be okay. You’re just autumnal.

On to bafflegab. I really liked the frivolous sounding nature of the word, but it’s the potential application that excites me. When someone is using all these big, fancy words you don’t understand – you just pull out this dipsy-doodle of a word and put a stop to it in true mic-drop fashion. What comes to mind is the scene in every movie when someone gets diagnosed with cancer:

Doctor: We used a fluoroscopy during your biopsy to get a sample from the parenchyma. After testing, we’ve discovered that you have adenocarcinoma and will require curative surgery, followed by adjuvant chemotherapy.

Patient: What does that mean in English?

So I’d like to rewrite that scene to have the patient say, “knock off the damn bafflegab and give it to me straight doc.”

Week Five Stats

Starting word: Argentina                      Ending word: balance sheet

Pages: 69-103                                        Total Pages: 103/1815

Ahead/Behind: -71 pages

Dictionary Challenge Week Four: The Almighty Ant-lion

It’s been an arduous process, but it’s nothing my ardour for words can’t handle as I ardently flip each page and learn the arcana of the dictionary with a merely modest level of aplomb.

If that sentence doesn’t give it away… I’ve made it to the ar – section and I’m on the fast-track to B for the upcoming week. Again, there were a lot of potentials to make my top 5, so this week I decided to give a few honourable mentions: antimacassar (a covering on furniture, especially a chair, to protect it from grease in the hair); annus horribilis (a year of disaster or misfortune); go apeshit (become crazy); arf (a representation of a dog’s bark); arcadian (an idealized peasant or country dweller.)

Clearly go apeshit and arf struck a similar chord. When I think of the dictionary, I think of this massive set of big, difficult words and I forget that slang makes its way in there and that odd little words are still words. Or that the letter “H” isn’t just spelled h. It’s aitch. It seems obvious, but that one blew my mind just a little bit.

Now that I’ve given enough due to the runners up, here are the winners in no particular order:

  1. Ant-lion: any dragonfly-like Cartoon of a false ant-lionpredatory insects from the Myrmeleontidae whose larvae (also called doodlebug) live beneath small pits they build to trap insects
  2. Antsy: agitated, impatient, fidgety
  3. Apple-cheeked: having round, rosy cheeks (especially as a sign of good health)
  4. Apple polisher: a person who curries favour
  5. Aquiline: of or like an eagle; (of a nose) curves like an eagle’s beak

So ant-lion is a 2-for-1. First off, they already have the name dragonfly which is pretty deadly, but now they get a second ferocious name of ant-lion, but then that must have been too much because their larvae are called…. Doodlebugs? There has to be some sort of initiation process to go from doodlebug to ant-lion. Like killing a sibling or something. Those dragonflies are hard-core gangster. I mean, from that definition, it kind of looks like they use their babies as bait.

The thing that brought antsy up to the big leagues of the top five isn’t so much the definition, but the fact that it’s beginning is so humble. I’m used to all the word origins being something like French from Latin from French again. Not so this time. Antsy simple comes from the expression “ants in your pants.” So obvious and yet I still didn’t see it coming. Apple-cheeked is just such a cute word and I already know I’ll be pulling this one out the next time I see a baby or a toddler running around. Sort of like antsy, apple polisher made the list because it essentially means brown noser and comes from children who brought apples for their teachers.

I got to use apple polisher last night. For a Super Geek, I felt pretty awesome. Really. Whenever the opportunity arises that I get to seamlessly plug in one of my new words, I get kind of pumped up. Most of the time I just talk about the interesting things I’ve learned, but when I get to use the words in everyday conversation, well, that’s pretty rad.

I need a new word for rad.

Last up, there’s aquiline. While this isn’t a new word for me, it was nice to stumble across it and be reminded of its existence. I envision a tall, dark-haired, almost impossibly skinny man with hooded eyes, angular features and, of course an aquiline nose. And you know that guy is up to no good…

An acephalous body crept past in the moonlight as a dark figure stood amongst the shadows, watching – invisible, but for the aquiline silhouette of his nose protruding into the streetlamp’s dirty light.

Week Four Stats

Starting word: annuity                 Ending word: argentiferous

Pages: 53-68                                 Total Pages: 68/1815

Ahead/Behind: -72 pages

And for those of you wondering what APOCRYPHAL means…

  1. of doubtful authenticity 2. Invented, mythical