Great Yiddish Word

I’m sitting at my computer. I just ate a candy bar that is parading as a granola bar.  (It’s covered with chocolate and has peanuts . . . not much different that a Snickers.)

It’s just a little nosh to quell my grumbling stomach until lunch time.

Nosh. What a great Yiddish word.  As a noun, it means a snack.  As a verb, it means to snack or eat between meals.

Mothers lean toward trying to make their children avoid any noshes.  Mothers want their children to be hungry at meal time so they will eat their vegetables. Go brocolli!  (Personally, I’d rather have a chocolate covered, peanut-filled granola bar . . . Wouldn’t you?)

Sometimes, workers need a mid-morning nosh to give them a quick boost of energy. (Eating a nosh at work fortifies you for the distasteful tasks you have to do.)

When you see a movie, eating a nosh is very appropriate.  It enhances your movie going experience. :-)

If you are a frequent flyer, you know that you have to supply your own nosh.  Many airlines don’t give them to you.

Now that my children are grown, I don’t have to set a healthy eating example.  I can eat noshes any time of the day I want.  Yipee!

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You Little Crapehanger, You

A new word recently crossed my path.  I love it when that happens.  It’s a good word.  Useful, too.

It’s crapehanger.

At first, the word made me think of someone who hangs crepe paper streamers around the room.  Maybe to celebrate a birthday.  Maybe for a Halloween party.  Or even for a New Year’s Eve celebration.  Alas, those thoughts were in error.  The definition has absolutely nothing to do with paper.

Crapehanger (pronounced with a long A sound) is a noun that means someone who is gloomy or is a pessimist.  Someone who sees the gloomy side of things

Do you know any crapehangers?

I do.

It seems that every time I am around this person, all she ever does is complain.  Complain, complain, complain.  All she ever focuses on are the things that go wrong in her life.  The more she focuses on the problems that come her way, the more problems she seems to have.  It’s the Law of Attraction working in a negative way: she thinks about bad things and voila!  Bad things happen to her.

Then, she’s always negative about EVERYTHING.  If she does get an opportunities to do something, all she can see is the down side of doing it.  She only sees all of the cons of the situation. She sees all the problems there are and all of the reasons why she shouldn’t do it.

For example.  If she won a trip to Disneyland, instead of being thrilled, she would moan about how hard it would be to get time off from work and then how expensive it would be to fly there.  She would complain about standing in long lines at the airport, about having to pay a hefty fee to check in luggage, about cramped leg room on the airplane, and that you’d only get a snack during the flight and not a meal.

If she thought about driving, she would complain about the high cost of gas, the looooooonnnnnnggg drive to California, and the boring scenery through the Nevada desert.  She would say that the hotel prices are out of this world.  And, if she bought any food or souvenirs inside the park, she would be upset because they would be outrageously overpriced.

So, because everything is so expensive, she wouldn’t accept the trip. She would stay home.  Then, she would complain about her boring life and how she never gets to do anything fun.  And she would expect you to pity her.

Indeed, I do pity her.

She’s sad and unhappy.

Dear Reader, I have a word of advice for you.  Don’t be a crapehanger.  Be an optimist — and live life to its fullest.

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Wild Driver

Jehu.  I so wish that I had known this word when we went to Mexico in March!

Jehu [jee- hoo] is a noun that means fast driver.  It also refers to someone who drives a cab.  (Isn’t a fast driver synonymous with cab driver??)

This word comes to us from the Old Testament.  King Jehu was well-known for driving his chariot at break-neck speeds.  I wonder if there were highway patrolmen back then who gave tickets to speeding chariot drivers . . . So, if someone drives fast, you can say he is a jehu.  (Notice I used the masculine pronoun ‘he.’  That’s because we females never drive over the speed limit, now do we?  Not me!)

Everybody knows that the faster a taxi driver delivers his passenger to the place he wants to go then the taxi can get another passenger.  The more passengers a taxi driver has the more money he makes. Everybody understands this, right?  Right.

When we were in Mexico, we took a taxi from Bucerias where we were staying over to Puerto Vallarta. We chatted with the driver.  We learned about some of the laws that governed taxis. If a taxi driver takes someone to another state in Mexico, that taxi driver cannot pick up a passenger in that state.  He has to go back to the state he is licensed in.

Bucerias is only 20 miles from Puerto Vallarta.  But they are in two different states.  That meant, the taxi driver could not pick up a passenger in Puerto Vallarta.  So, his goal was to get us to Puerto Vallarta and get back to Bucerias as fast as he could.  We flew at Mach 1 speed.

Yahoo, you jehu taxi drivers!

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A New Word From My Sister

The other day, my sister e-mailed me about a word that she had come across that she thought she would share with me since she knows I like words.  The word was semiotics.

Semiotics [see-mee-ot-iks] is a noun that means the analysis of systems of communication, as language, gestures, or clothing.  She had a link to a Wikipedia article about the word.  After she read it, she still didn’t understand the meaning of the word.

I read the article, too, and it wasn’t very clear to me either.  So I looked it up on Dictionary.com.  That helped some.

I took a moment to read a bit more on the Internet to get a better understanding.  (Isn’t the Internet wonderful?) As I understand what I’ve read, semiotics refers to signs or symbols as it relates to language or communication.  It’s a study of how the  meaning of something is constructed and understood. (Sounds like gripping reading material, eh?)

For instance, the letter ‘a’ is a symbol as is all of the other letters of the alphabet.  When you connect the signs (or alphabet letters), they create words that have meaning and stand for something such as apple, ape, astronaut or Android phone. (I wonder how many children’s alphabet books have ‘A is for Android phone?’)

A ‘sign’ could also be a body movement to express meaning, such as wrinkling your nose indicates you don’t like something.  Offer me beets to eat, and not only do I wrinkle my nose, I stick out my tongue, and say, “Blech!”  That’s a symbol that means beets are the nastiest thing on God’s green earth.

Semiotics could even refer to clothing, such as when teenage boys wear baggy pants down around their knees instead of at their waistline so you can see their boxer shorts – indicating the meaning that they are absolute imbeciles.  (That’s my definition of that ‘symbol’…)

It’s also like the picture of three arrows linking in a circle indicates an item that is recyclable.  Or the skull and crossbones indicating hazardous materials.

In my humble opinion, this word is probably something used only in university classrooms and scholarly writings but not much elsewhere.  It isn’t a word that I would use in my day-to-day conversation with family, friends, and the bus driver of public transportation.

By the way, I wondered what in the world my sister was reading when she came across that word.  I doubt it was the daily paper, People magazine, or the work orders from her place of employment.

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Captuous

When I was in school and had to write papers, I dreaded getting them back.  More red dripped from them than from a vampire’s teeth.  It seemed that my teachers were so captuous. (Had I known that word back then, I might have said something to my teachers like, “Stop being so captuous, you ninny.” Well, maybe not phrased quite like THAT…)

Captuous (KAP-shuhs) is an adjective that means having an inclination to find faults, especially of a trivial nature. That’s what English teachers do with research papers, right? Find every little niggling mistake and encircle it in the arms of red ink?  Sometimes, I wished that they were less captuous.

English teachers are not the only captuous folks on the planet. Mothers tend to be captuous about their children’s behavior and about leaving the house with clean underwear on. (Thanks, Mom. But so far, I have never been in a car accident where I would be embarrassed to have medical technicians see the sorry state of my underwear.)

Wives are captuous creatures when it comes to their spouse’s personal grooming habits. (What? I have to shower and put on deodorant before I go to the wedding?  I showered last month . . .)

Bosses are captuous aficionados.  How do I say micromanaging?

Lest you want your friends, family members, and the random man on the street think that you are captuous, you might want to lighten up a wee bit.  Don’t be so picky.  Look at the forest and forget about the trees.  You’ll win friends and influence people more if you do.

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Oh How Wormwood!

I know a fellow who is divorced.  Even though he has paid his ex-wife all of the money that the court ordered him to, she keeps coming back for more money.  Her intent is to keep making him pay for all of her wormwood experiences he has caused her.

Wormwood  [wurm-wood] is a noun that means something bitter, grievous, or extremely unpleasant.  So this woman is soaking her ex-husband for as much money as she can get because of all the emotionally painful experiences he caused her during their married life.

You can have a wormwood experience like having to speak in public or having a messy blow-up with a friend in a restaurant.  A wormwood experience could be when a loved one passes away or someone takes a part of your inheritance that you thought was rightfully yours.  Having your boss severely criticize you in front of co-workers is a wormwood experience.  Having a constantly nagging wife is very wormwood.

It’s interesting to note the use of this word in the Bible.  It is mentioned as the name of a plant that is noted for its intense bitterness.  In Amos, the Hebrew word is translated into hemlock which is a poisonous plant.  Interesting, interesting, interesting.

So, when something very unpleasant happens to you, fall into a heap, fling your arm over your forehead and moan that you can’t take any more of those wormwood experiences.  That will make people sit up and take notice!

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Fatuous

I know some people who are fatuous.  No, I’m not talking about those who tip the scales due to their hefty size.  Being fatuous has nothing to do with physical traits but everything to do with mannerisms and attitudes.

Fatuous [fach-oo-uhs] is an adjective that means foolish or inane, especially in a complacent and smug manner. Mindless and dim-witted are synonyms of the word.  It also means an idiotic person.

At times I have been mindless.  Take, for instance, an experience I had while working in my late teens.  I worked at a fabric store.  I enjoyed sewing and I enjoyed working at the store.  My boss was much shorter than I was (and I’m NOT that tall).  He had carrot-orange hair and a funny orange bristly mustache.  He wore big glasses that reminded me of the Atom Ant cartoon character from my youth during the Mesozoic Era.

I can’t remember what I did (thank goodness for short memories).  But it was something totally fatuous (mindless).  My boss criticized me to which I replied, “Well, I just wasn’t thinking.”  (What kind of an excuse is that, I ask you?  At the time, it made sense to me . . .)

His reply has stuck with me for lo these many years.  “That’s your problem,” he said.  “You weren’t thinking.”

That comment has shaped my life in ways that my boss will never know.  I have become very observant, aware, and even critical of my thinking.  I’ve read books on thinking.  I try to improve my thinking.  (And all of this was long before the threat of Alzheimer’s loomed on my mental horizon.)

Maybe you know someone who does foolish things.  Maybe they seem rather dim-witted and dull.  Are they complacent or smug?  If so, you can describe them as being fatuous.

As I enter the downhill slope of my life, I do not want to be complacent, mindless, or inane. I want to live life to its fullest, to enjoy every possible moment, to live life with a vengeance.

I certainly don’t want to be fatuous. And I don’t want to be fat either!

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