I get a bang out of this word

I found this oddball word in an article from The Smithsonian Magazine, which is an online, subscription only magazine. An interrobang is a fairly new punctuation mark, coined in 1967, meaning an exclamation point inside of a question mark.

 

 

“The mark gets its name from the punctuation that it is intended to combine. Interro is from “interrogation point,” the technical name for the question mark, and bang which is printers’ slang for the exclamation point. The interrobang is not commonly used-its absence from standard keyboards can explain its paucity in print.”

 

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/interrobang

It’s a bird..it’s a plane…it’s a pilcrow

No, a pilcrow is not some rare exotic bird, it is the name for the symbol used to denote a new paragraph if you’re writing copy for a newspaper article or a manuscript.

 

 

According to Smithsonian.com, “The derivation of its name is as complex as its form. It originally comes from the Greek paragraphos (para, “beside” and graphein, “to write”), which led to the Old French paragraph, which evolved into pelagraphe and then pelagreffe. Somehow, the word transformed into the Middle English pylcrafte and eventually became the “pilcrow.”

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-origin-of-the-pilcrow-aka-the-strange-paragraph-symbol-8610683/#BUhdE6pHUmrTcvdO.99

 

Don’t try and hoodwink me

Put on your deerstalker hat because I have a poser for you. Where in the world did the word hornswoggle originate from? According to Dictionary.com, it’s a slang word that means “to swindle, cheat, hoodwink, or hoax.” Dating from 1815-1825, its origin is unknown. Source: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/hornswoggle

 

 

Another source, A Way With Words, tells us “the word hornswoggle, meaning “to embarrass” or “to swindle,” is of unclear origin, but definitely seems of a piece with U.S. frontier slang from the 1830s and 1840s.” Source: https://www.waywordradio.org/?s=hornswoggle&submit=search

 

 

Determined to root out the origin, I found this inventive etymology for the word: Unknown, 1829 United States. Presumably horns + waggle with humorous faux ablaut or combination with wobble (compare later woggle, 1923), perhaps inspired by lassoed steers trying to escape by moving or waggling their head. Source: https://www.yourdictionary.com/hornswoggle

Party Like a President

On my last birthday, my brother gave me a book about the US President’s drinking, gambling and carousing habits through the years. In it I found a recipe for syllabub, an olde English dessert, which was popular during James Monroe’s presidency.

Here’s the recipe: 2/3 c. white wine, 1/3 c. sherry, 2 T. grated lemon zest, ¼ c. lemon juice, 2/3 c. sugar, 2 c. heavy cream, fresh mint sprigs and berries. Mix the wine, sherry, lemon zest and lemon juice in a bowl. Stir in the sugar until dissolved.

 

 

In a separate bowl, whip the cream until the mixture forms into medium-size stiff peaks. Then, combine and stir with the wine mixture. Scoop the mixture into wineglasses. Cover the glasses and chill in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. When ready to serve, top with the mint and berries.

 

 

Source: Party Like a President: True Tales of Inebriation, Lechery and Mischief from the Oval Office, By Brian Abrams. Workman Publishing. 2015

The Death Star

star-exploding1

 

Cagastrical is an adjective used to describe diseases such as plague and fever, which were once thought to be caused by the influence of malignant stars.

 

 

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(No, I am not making this up, although I am a fan of Star Wars movies!) The word comes from Greek root words meaning “evil star”.

 

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This word was found in the wonderful and often hilarious book:  Weird and Wonderful Words, edited by Erin McKean

Do your balistrarias need reinforcing?

balistraria1A balistraria is the name of the cross-shaped holes in the walls of fortresses and castles, through which weapons such as crossbows (also known as arbalests) could be fired.

It is also the name of the room in your castle where you would keep the arbalests or crosswbows.

 

 

crossbow-and-arrows

By The Way, if you’re able to fire an arbalest, you’d be called a balistrier!

This word was found in the wonderful and often hilarious book: Weird and Wonderful Words, edited by Erin McKean

Don’t eat that angletwitch

earthwormAn angletwitch is an earthworm, the word originated in 14th century Merry Olde England from: Middle English angeltwicche, angeltwacche, from Old English angeltwæcce, angeltwicce, from angel hook + -twæcce, -twicce (from twiccian to pluck, catch hold of). Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/angletwitch

 

weird-and-wonderful-words-book-coverThis word was found in the wonderful and often hilarious book: Weird and Wonderful Words, edited by Erin McKean

 

What weird and wonderful words do you have to share today? Please post them in the comments section with their meanings!!