Vocabulary: N-aah naah naaah naah, hey hey hey

N is for noted, nautical and nerd.

Nacelle – the structure on an airplane wing that contains the engine.  Or, on a starship.

“Captain!” Scotty shouted.  “The starboard nacelles have sustained a direct hit! I’ll have to route the antimatter thingamajig to the whatzit to bypass the doohickey or we’ll be blown to bits!”

Nave – the big room in a church where the congregation sits.

Notre Dame de Paris, France.

Image:  Adam Bishop / Wikimedia Commons

Necropsy – post-mortem, or autopsy.  Usually when it’s done on people, it’s referred to as an autopsy, and when animals or other non-human creatures are examined, it’s called a necropsy.  I have no idea why, except that auto– means self.  Technically they’re the same thing, but I don’t suppose we think of animals as being ourselves.

Nebbish – a pitiful person, not effective in his work.  A weak, wishy-washy person.  From the Yiddish nebekh, unfortunate.

Ngorongoro Crater – the vast, ancient caldera of an extinct volcano in Tanzania, Africa.  The crater’s floor is now a vast plain that is populated by wildebeests,  zebras, lions, and flamingos that hang out in the lake in the center.  Ngorongoro is a national conservation area that attracts many tourists with its scenery and varied wildlife.

It be purty.

Image: G. Heilmann / Wikimedia Commons

Nictitating – to nictate is to wink or blink.  In birds, sharks and some animals, there is a nictitating membrane, or a third eyelid, that blinks across the eye to protect it.  Typically it’s transparent, so the animal can retain visibility while moistening the eye.  I first came upon this term when reading about sharks in National Geographic as a kid.

Nihilism – a philosophy that denies any meaning in reality and considers all values baseless.

AllAboutPhilosophy.com defines nihilism with Shakespeare’s famous passage from Macbeth:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

A character who considers him/herself a nihilist would be interesting to read or write.

Nostrum – a quack medicine or treatment.

“What’s a nostrum?” Buffy asked.

“Many people believe chiropractic is a nostrum,” Giles told her. 

“Oh,” she said.  “I thought it was a demon’s nose hole. Thanks for clearing that up.”

Nosebag – a food bag that hangs over a horse’s head, so he can eat on the go.

Om nom nom….

Image:  Mattes / Wikimedia Commons

Numismatics – the study of coins.

Nutria – a 10-pound, ratlike rodent from South America.  Also found in US Gulf Coast wetlands, it is destructive due to its feeding habits.  Some people trap and eat the animals as a means of control.

Tastes like chicken?

Image:  K. Retzlaff / Wikimedia Commons

Nymphomania – popular term for a psychosexual disorder in women, characterized by an abnormal and excessive desire for sexual activity, often with multiple partners.  Think this would be fun?  Read thisAnd this.

Nyctophobia – fear of the dark.

“Honey? Honey, is that you? W-where’s the light switch…YEEEAAAAUUUUGGGHH!!!”


Vocabulary: M M Good

It’s been a while since I did a vocabulary post.  Today’s letter is M, which stands for mother, marker, mythology and muwahahaha.

Madder – a reddish-orange dye or paint color.

The red alert lights on the Enterprise produced a shiny madder glow on Captain Picard’s bald head.  

Manticore –  a mythical monster with a human head, the body of a lion, and a scorpion’s tail.   Yecch!

Why this thing hasn't turned up in a Batman movie, I can't imagine.

Image:  via Wikimedia Commons

Mercurial – volatile.

Sylvia’s mercurial nature combined with her neighbor’s loud muffler created a situation guaranteed to end in bloodshed. 

Metallurgy – the study of metallic elements.

“Suicide.  It’s elementary, my dear Watson,” Sherlock proclaimed.  “The dead man had studied metallurgy, therefore he would have known that breathing smelter dust, with its high level of cadmium, would kill him.”

Mhorr (also mohr) – a West African species of gazelle, known for the rings on its antlers. Like goats, mhorr also produce bezoar, a stonelike substance found in the stomach or intestines and believed to be an antidote for poison.   In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry uses a bezoar to save his friend Ron from death after Ron mistakenly drinks poisoned mead.

I iz in ur stomach, savin ur lifes.

Image : Ivanhoe / Wikipedia Commons

Mickey (also Mickey Finn) – a drink that has been doped to render the recipient unconscious or helpless.

Batman refused the delicious, foamy root beer Joker offered him, in case the clown was trying to slip him a mickey. 

 Misogyny – hatred or mistrust of women.  What US politicians are currently displaying.

Monkery – monastic life, including behavior, routines, etc.

Han Solo’s brash ways did not suit his disguise as a member of the Order of Dai Bendu; he was unable to assume a convincing appearance of monkery. 

Morel – a member of the genus Morchella, typically a sponge-shaped mushroom sought as a delicacy.  I’ve had them; they’re not bad, considering I usually hate mushrooms.

M. esculenta, the common morel. Or an uncommonly large boogie.

Image: Mary Smiley / Wikimedia Commons

Mucilage – something sticky.  Usually refers to glue, but may mean other, more unpleasant substances.

“Earth’s sundew plant produces a sticky mucilage it uses to catch insects, which it then devours,” the Doctor explained.  “AlphaBeta IV’s version of the sundew is much, much larger, large enough to—DON’T!  MOVE!” He grinned.  “If you take one more step, Rory, you’ll be lunch for a plant.” 

Mugwump – someone who is neutral, i.e. in politics or regarding controversial issues.

Myrrh  – a secretion of the Myrris odorata plant, used in incense and perfumes.  In Christian lore, the Three Wise Men, or Magi, brought it along with gold and frankincense (kinda the same thing) as a gift to the newborn Jesus Christ.

Painting The Adoration of the Magi by Raphael / Wikimedia Commons

Mynheer (mahyn-HAIR) – in Dutch, the word for mister, or sir.

That’s all for today’s vocabulary post.  See you next time!  (Every time I say that, I hear The Mickey Mouse Club theme in my head.  Damn, I’m old.)

Vocabulary – L is for Letter

The letter L!  L stands for lollipop, laughter, lurking, love and limerick.

Latent – hidden, as in fingerprints or a dormant disease process.  Something usually needs to act on it to bring it out.

Samwise wanted to believe the latent writing on the One Ring, which the fire had revealed, was really an advertisement for a new brand of fertilizer. 

Lagniappe (lan-YAP) – Cajun French, meaning a little something extra, like a tip or gratuity.  A freebie when you check into a hotel or buy something is lagniappe.

Lemures (LEM-ur-eez) – troublesome family ghosts that must be exorcised.

Peeves, the Hogwarts resident poltergeist. Illustration by Mary Grandpre.

Lexicon – usually the vocabulary of a language or profession.  Also can refer to the collection of terminology peculiar to a canon, such as Harry Potter, Star Trek or The Lord of the Rings.

Lhasa Apso – a small canine that resembles a mop.  Originated in Tibet as a watchdog.

Watchdog or fashion victim? You be the judge.

Lhotse– the world’s fourth highest mountain,  Located near Mount Everest in the Himalayas, it’s connected to Everest by the South Col.  The west flank of Lhotse is called the Lhotse Face and rises two miles in only a little over a mile of space.  That’s a steep climb, baby.

The North Col is an easier climb technically, but regardless of which way you go, you will need oxygen once you reach the Death Zone (26,000 feet or more above sea level).  Everest’s summit is at 29,029 feet.  I wish I were really athletic so I could climb it.

What am I, an IDIOT?!?

Libation (lie-BAY-shun) – a celebratory or ceremonial drink.

“Let us indulge in this libation while we watch the lions feast,” said Nero.  He sipped delicately at his goblet of fine wine while observing the screaming gladiators. 

Lipoma – a benign fatty tumor.  Bleah!

Llew (Welsh) – lion.  It is NOT pronounced the way it looks!  Click here and then click the little arrow to hear a man’s voice say the word.

Louver (LOO-ver )– a sloped slat, as in a door or shutter.

Lordosis – sharp inward curvature of the lumbar spine.  Swayback.

Lulu – sorceress character in the Final Fantasy X game for PS2.   Her Japanese name isルールー.  No, I don’t know how it’s pronounced.  Yes, I’m playing it—or rather, exhibiting my complete incompetence in it by constantly killing everybody.

That little teddy thing is a Moogle. Never fight monsters with it! It doesn't do anything!

Luthier – a craftsman who makes stringed instruments.  I know one. :)

Lycanthrope (LIE-kun-throhp) – werewolf.

Lyonnaise – style of cooking sliced or diced potatoes in butter with onions and parsley.  Mmm.


That’s all the words for today, people.  See you next time!

Vocabulary: Kickin’ Letter K

K is for kookie…oh wait.  No dessert for me.  I have to be skinny shortly for a trip to Los Angeles.  I will post pictures if I get any good ones (not of me!).  No, Psycho Kitty is not going.  Yes, Certain Someone is.  :)


“Meh. I didn’t want to leave the yard anyway.”

Kake – dammit, I did it again…

Karabiner (also carabiner) – a clip ring with a spring closure used in mountaineering and rappelling to connect ropes.

Keelhaul – Yarr!  A pirate cap’n’ll keelhaul ye –drag yer carcass under the keel o’ the ship by a long rope—iffen ye don’t shape up, matey!

Khmer – the official language of Cambodia.

Kinesthesia – the sense of muscle movement.  In Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory of learning, having kinesthetic intelligence means you have control over your body and learn physical skills easily.  I do not have this.



Klingon (Star Trek)  – a warlike race who opposed the Federation but in the Next Generation series became cautious allies.  Klingon is also an invented, fictional language that some Trek fans actually speak.  Kind of like Tolkien’s Elvish.

Knackered – an old slang term for worn out, exhausted.  From the English knacker, which is a person who renders animals that are not fit for human consumption (at the dreaded glue factory!).  Knacker is also a derogatory term for an Irish traveler.

Kohl – soft eyeliner, easily smudges.  The ancient Egyptians used it frequently.

Kraken – a sea monster believed to attack ships and carry sailors down to the depths.

A sailor’s worst nightmare…other than a leak.

Kuru – brain disease similar to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (similar to mad cow), transmitted by eating the brains of infected individuals.  Yes, you heard me.  Cannibalism.  0_o

Kwashiorkor –what you get when you don’t eat enough protein.  This is the one the big-bellied kids in the commercials have.  Treatable if caught early; will kill your ass if it isn’t.

Kyphosis –  a condition where the shoulders pull inward to the front, making a hump on the back.  Can be corrected with exercises.  I’m on a medical kick today.

KZAAMM!! Okay I made that one up.

That’s all for today, kids!

Vocabulary: Ja, Baby!

I’ve been dying to get back to the vocabulary posts.  They are fun.  Today’s letter is J for junior, jitterbug (it used to be a dance; now it’s a phone), jacket and Jell-o.

Oh you dear sweet mound of jiggly goodness.

Jabot –  a frilly ruffle worn on the front of a dress shirt.  Somewhat seventeenth century.

Jackalope – a cross between a jackrabbit and a small deer.  A mythical animal.  OR IS IT??

Jejune (ji-JOON)– dull, insipid, immature, or inexperienced.  Buffy’s attempts at painting were jejune at best; she could not seem to move past stick figures with fangs. 

Jerkin – a close fitting jacket or leather vest, medieval-style.   Ren Faire, pirate and re-enactment attire.

Jib – small triangle-shaped sail that comes off the foremast of a ship.  The expression I like the cut of your jib refers to the way a person looks or their personal style, and has its origin with sailors who recognized the shape of sails from different nationalities.

Jicama (HIK-uh muh) – a sort of pale brown turnip from Mexico, eaten raw or boiled.  Nice and crunchy, something like a water chestnut.

Jo–  mama! J/k!

Jongleur (Fr., ZHON-glur) – itinerant medieval minstrel.    Caught in mid-grope, Fred and Daphne stared aghast at the gibbering jongleur running through the deserted Renaissance fairgrounds. 

Jocularity – joking humor.  Anyone who ever watched M*A*S*H will remember this as one of Father Mulcahy’s words.

Jungle cock –  a male jungle fowl found in India, Southeast Asia and Indonesia.  No, it’s not that;  get your mind out of the gutter right now!

Think he may be stuffed…poor bird.

Click here for a video of a live one (around 1:35).

Judder – a heavy vibration, as in a car whose clutch is going out, or an airplane in trouble.  Batman clenched his teeth as the Batplane juddered, smoke pouring out of the damaged engine.  Beside him, the bound Joker giggled wildly through his gag.   

Jy – I can’t find any words that begin with –jy.  If you know any, please share in the comments.  Or, make one up!

That’s all for today.  See you next time!

Vocabulary – Letter I Wanna go to the beach…

Hope everyone has safely dug out from under Snownami of 2011.  A blizzard where I live is unusual.  Good freaking God what’s going on with the weather!?

Iatrophobia – fear of going to the doctor.  Iatro- from the Greek iatros meaning healer or medicine.   I knew someone who was iatrophobic and didn’t go to the doctor when she found a lump.  In six months she was dead.  Go to the freaking doctor already!

Ibis – a wading bird like herons or egrets. They feed on frogs, reptiles and crustaceans.  Pretty bird, yes you are!

The scarlet ibis, the national bird of Trinidad! (Picture by Elizabeth West)

Ichthyoid – fishlike.  Barney had a pooched, ichthyoid mouth that gave Ellen the creeps; every time she saw him, she wanted to sprinkle goldfish food over his head.

Idiopathic – as in a disease, no known cause.

I.e. – abbreviation of id est, Latin meaning that is.  Used when an explanation or paraphrase will follow.  The brown fox has seven kits–i.e., babies.

Ifrit – a smoke djinn (spirit), in Islamic mythology.  In the Final Fantasy series of videogames, an ifrit could be summoned magically in battle to do fire damage to opponents.

Doesn’t look happy to be here…

Ignoramus – a dunce, someone who is ignorant.  “Daphne’s such an ignoramus,” Velma muttered to Shaggy.  “I wonder what Fred sees in her.  Guess it’s because her boobs are bigger than her brains.”

Ihram (ee-RAHM) – white robes worn by male pilgrims at Mecca.  Two cloths, one wrapped around the waist and one over the shoulder, eliminate any class distinctions and signify a consecrated state.

Illude – to trick or deceive.  Not to be confused with elude, which means to avoid or escape by trickery, or allude, to indirectly refer to something.   Batman knew the Joker liked to illude him, and he enjoyed alluding to the time he eluded capture by setting off a hidden stink bomb and saying Alfred farted.

Impregnable – no, this doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant.  It means unconquerable, unable to be taken by force or overthrown.

Insouciant (in-SOO-see-ahnt) – carefree.  Han Solo drank and laughed an insouciant laugh, although he knew Boba Fett was hot on his trail. Chewie would protect him, if he could get away from the space hookers combing his shaggy fur.  Surely they didn’t think the Wookie had any money.

Ionosphere – the part of the atmosphere of Earth that radio waves bounce off; it begins about thirty miles above the surface.

Ipomoea (ip-uh-MEE-uh) – plant genus of the morning glory family.

Pretty, but will take over your garden if you don’t stop it NOW!

Irascible (ih-RAS-uh-bul) – irritable, easily provoked.  Now get off my lawn!

Isobar – in meteorology, a line on the map that connects areas of equal barometric pressure.  When you see a bunch of them packed close together, that means it’s gonna be windy.   Hold onto your brelly!

It – a great book by Stephen King.  Touches on the power of childhood and imagination, and of course contains the most viciously frightening clown ever created, Pennywise. I will not include a picture from the miniseries.  Too scary!

Ivoride – a substitute for ivory.  Elephants are the typical prey of ivory poachers, but walrus, hippos, narwhals and mammoths (dug-up tusks) have been used for this toothy substance.  Harvesting and importing ivory is illegal!

Ixodic – related to or pertaining to ticks.  Bleah.

Not the yucky tick, the cool Tick.

Izzat (IZ-uht) – personal dignity, prestige.  Izzat your medal I see there, you dignified thing, you?

That’s all for today, kids.  Until next time!

Vocabulary: The Letter H and 100th Post

HOLY CHRISTMAS, BATMAN!  I have reached 100 POSTS!

Not bad, considering my initial fear that I had nothing to say.  Since this is my 100th post, I should mark the occasion with a special celebration.  I have no published books to give away, alas.  Guess I’ll have to save that for my next milestone, like actually publishing one.  *snerk*

Thank you to all my readers, both known and unknown.  Stick around because I’m working on some plans for next year’s posts, including some audience participation and other goodies.

Today’s letter is H, for hospital, Harry Potter (did you see Deathly Hallows Part 1 yet???), heaps (as in heaps of presents – hope you got some!) and Hell, which I am in when it gets cold enough to make my fingers crack and bleed.  Onward!

Haggis – the national dish of Scotland, immortalized as such by Robert Burns’ poem Address to a Haggis.  A large sausage-like sheep’s stomach stuffed with sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs), oatmeal, onions, spices and suet (fat).  Traditionally served with neeps (mashed turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes).

Hallux – scientific name for the big toe on primate feet.  In birds, it’s the toe that points backward.  Contrary to popular belief, you can walk without a big toe.

Hedonist – one who practices a devotion to a life of pure pleasure, believing it is the greatest good.  The Doctor was no hedonist; while he enjoyed traveling through time in his trusty Tardis, he always took on the messy task of stopping aliens from destroying humanity.

Herpetophobia – fear of snakes.  I like them.  No really.  They eat nasty bugs, slugs and mice.  Without them we’d be overrun.  And except for the ones that can kill you with a well-aimed glance, they’re kind of cute.

Peek-a-boo! Aww!

Hircine – smelling like a smelly goat.  Yoda was cute, but centuries of climbing around the swamps of Dagobah had left him with a rather hircine odor.

Hillbilly – common and derogatory term for a mountain dweller, mostly in the Ozarks and Appalachians.  It is sometimes used interchangeably with the term white trash when referring to rural folks, along with redneck, yokel, trailer trash and cracker (Southern).  Here’s a great article about Ozark hillbillies at Ozark Mossman’s Bizzaritorium.

Holograph – text written in the author’s handwriting.  For example, a holographic will is a handwritten document, usually not witnessed.  Even with a legal signature, they aren’t valid in all states.  In those where they are, a properly executed, signed and dated holographic will, with or without witnesses, including a statement that it supercedes all previous wills, may get your character his inheritance.  Double-check with a lawyer, because I ain’t one.  I’m just a hillbilly.

Hornpipe – British country folk dance named after the instrument that played the tune.  Yarr! Dance this on the poop deck, me hearties!  Looks like fun, especially with a snootful o’ grog!

HP – short for Harry Potter.  I promise I won’t nerd out…really…okay, any writer who wants to do a series should read this.  In fact, read it anyway, just because it’s loads of fun.  I don’t care if you don’t like fantasy. You’ll like this.  Who among us didn’t wish as a child that we could do magic?

HQ – short for headquarters.  I know acronyms aren’t really words, but since some of them have entered the vernacular, one or two of your characters might drop them in conversation.  For wacky fun, a character who talks primarily in acronyms will drive everyone else crazy.

HR – okay, last one, I promise. Human Resources, everyone’s favorite corporate department! “Hey, did you hear about Stinky Bob?” the office gossip said, her voice shivering with suppressed glee.  “He was called into HR a while ago.”

Huarache – Mexican sandal. And a Mexican dish of cornmeal dough topped with all kinds of yummy noms.  It gets its name from the shape, which is similar to the shoe.  If your huarache tastes like a huarache, I’d probably send it back.

Huarache you wear.

Huarache you eat.

Husbandry – science of cultivating animals or crops for food.  No, it’s not the science of keeping your husband in line.  That’s a whole other article.

Hyoid – U-shaped.  A little bone in the throat above the larynx, the hyoid bone, is often fractured by manual strangulation.  If you’re writing a detective novel where someone gets strangled you’ll want to remember this.

Hypotrichosis – hairlessness. Your hypotrichotic villain could leave behind someone else’s hair at the crime scene, thus implicating that person in the strangulation murder.  Muwahahaha.

That’s all for today, kids.  Have a safe and Happy New Year!

Vocabulary: Gee!

Today’s letter stands for grits (yummy with butter and pepper – haven’t tried them with red-eye gravy yet), guns, gentlemen, Gollum and gargoyle.  Let us begin.

Galactophagist – one who drinks milk.  I didn’t know there was a word for that…I love the stuff.

Mmm…moo juice.

Image: aopsan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Garret – attic room, commonly occupied by starving artists/writers/poets in romantic literature.

Genre – type of literature, such as romance, mystery, paranormal, sci-fi, etc.  Can be combined with others to create subgenres.  Example – paranormal romance like Twilight or a historical mystery like The Name of the Rose.  The short-lived TV program Firefly is a space western, with strong elements of each.

Gelato – Italian version of ice cream with less butterfat than the American kind.  While ice cream is whipped with air, gelato is not, making it melt faster in the mouth for a burst of immediate, rich, delicious flavor.

Ghawazi – tribe of Egyptian dancers, whose style is thought to be the origin of modern belly dancing.  Fascinating article here by orientalist Edwina Nearing.

Ghostwriter – a writer hired to write a book for somebody else.  Celebrity books are often written by ghostwriters, and then sold under the celebrity’s name.  You didn’t think they did their own writing, did you?

Gibbet – an old word for gallows.  Scooby and the gang freed the heroine from the noose just seconds before the monster sprung the gibbet’s trapdoor.  “Jinkies!” Velma exclaimed. “He nearly hanged you!”

Gimlet – small tool for boring holes; also a drink made with gin or vodka and lime juice.


Glaucous – light bluish-green.  I heard Richard Dreyfuss use this word in Jaws and I always wondered what it meant, but I never looked it up.  Bad writer! Bad!

Glossary – list of terms and definitions, often found at the back of a textbook.

Gormless – unintelligent.  Batman wondered how Robin could be so gormless as to let Joker capture him.  Perhaps his hot chocolate had been drugged.  Could that rather hirsute waitress have been one of Joker’s henchmen in a dress?

Goalmouth – the area between goalposts.

Gravid – pregnant.   Willow didn’t want to tell Buffy she was gravid with a mutant demon baby. Fooling around with Spike while hypnotized was embarrassing enough.

Groundlings – the Elizabethan commoners who paid a penny to stand in the yard (central open area) at the Globe Theater and watch Shakespeare’s plays.

Guile – crafty deception, wiles.

Guignol (grand guignol) – shocking or horrifying entertainment; over-the-top.  From Theatre du Grand Guignol in Paris, a bastion of in-your-face theater from its opening in 1897 until it closed in 1962.

Gwynedd – a county in Wales.

I could go there.

Gynotikolobomassophile – someone who enjoys nibbling on women’s earlobes. I swear this vocabulary search gets weirder every time.

Gyre – circular motion.  Those slithy toves who gyred and gimbled in the wabe in Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky must have been pretty dizzy.  Gimble means to make holes as with a gimlet.

A slithy tove gimbling. No word on whether he gyred first.

That’s all for G.  Good night kids!

Vocabulary – Fee Fi Fo Fum!

Today’s letter is brought to you by fire, fellowship, fraternizing and fiends.  The title words, spoken by a fiend in a fairy tale, fall under fighting words.

Farrier – a person who shoes horses.  Not to be confused with the blacksmith, who makes the horseshoes.  In olden times they often did both, and some still know how.  Modern farriers mostly stick with shoeing and caring for the horse’s feet by trimming the hooves and monitoring their health.

Faun – a mythical creature, part man and part goat.  Mr. Tumnus in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia is a faun.  Satyrs are similar but less pleasant.  Horror writer Brian Keene penned a deliciously perverted book called Dark Hollow about a satyr running amuck.

Tumnus: a friend, not a fiend.

Fecund (FEE-kund) – fertile, fruitful.  Scooby Doo’s girlfriend Scooby Dee proved fecund when six puppies arrived on Thursday.

Fealty (FEE uhl-tee) – fidelity, faithfulness, loyalty to the lord of the manor.  In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Pippin swears fealty to Boromir’s father Denethor, Steward of Gondor, as a partial atonement for Boromir dying while defending the hobbits from Uruk-Hai.

Finial – the decorative knob on top of a table lamp, which probably doesn’t give you enough light to write by.  It was Colonel Mustard in the writing room with the finial.

Fiction – the hardest kind of writing to make a living from.  Most novelists never get to quit their day jobs.  I won’t give up!

Fjord (feey-ORD) – you probably know this one.  A Norwegian word, it means a narrow inlet of the sea.  Here is a lovely picture of one.

Flashback – a scene that cuts into the middle of a narrative to inform the reader of something that took place before it began.  Sometimes writers put a flashback in a different tense to make it stand out.  It might be long enough for its own chapter, or just a short segue without any breaks.

Flagellum – the whippy, tail-like thing a protozoa uses to move around.  Sort of like rowing a boat with an eyelash.

Focaccia (fo-CAH-chuh) – a delicious Italian flatbread, sometimes baked with herbs and cheese and garlic and—and…mmmMMMhhhaaaaaa where did I put my napkin ‘cause now I’m drooooliiinnngg…

That’s a good-looking bread, that is.

Image by kochtopf / Flickr.com

Fontanel – the soft spot on the top of a baby’s head.  The skull bones of an infant have not yet ossified, and the resulting space is covered by membrane.  Handle with care.

Frame narrative – a larger story that encompasses a smaller narrative, and comes to a close at the end.  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a frame narrative, with the bedraggled Victor Frankenstein telling his horrific tale to the ship’s Captain Walton, who has rescued him in the frozen North.

Friable – crumbly.  Usually used to describe asbestos, which when friable is dangerous because it releases fibers that can cause serious lung damage when inhaled.

Fugu (FOO-goo) – puffer fish, a Japanese delicacy.  Fugu must be meticulously prepared because it is poisonous.

Fumarole – vapor hole in a volcano.  “Stay away from that fumarole, Robin,” Batman warned, “the ground is friable there—GOOD GOD!  ROBIN!  He’s gone!”

FX – popular abbreviation for effects, or special effects, in film and television.

Fyke – a fish trap held open with hoops.  No, really.

That’s all for today.  Enjoy your new words!

Vocabulary – D-D-Do you love me?

The laptop is on hiatus, so I’m writing this at lunchtime on my work computer.  My power supply quit and I have had to wait until payday (tomorrow) for a new one.  I’m in pure hell.

D is for despot, dormancy, deliciousness (root beer, Papa Murphy’s pizza, cheese of any kind except blue, and chocolate), Daleks (if you’re a Doctor Who fan), and dependent, which is what I am on my laptop.  Gah!

Let us begin.

Daguerreotype – an early photographic process using chemical reactions on a silver or copper plate.  Often confused with tintypes.  If you write historical fiction, you should know the difference.


From the linked website – daguerreotype in open case.

Denouement – falling action after the climax of a literary work or film.  This is the part that wraps things up.  After the criminal is unmasked and taken into custody, Scooby and the gang head to the malt shop to rehash the case over a chocolate coke float.

“But why did he dress as a woman, Fred?”

“Well, Daphne, I guess he had some sort of fetish, ha ha.”

“Jinkies, Fred,” Velma said, polishing her glasses, “it’s obvious he hoped to fool us into thinking his Aunt Clothilda wasn’t really dead so he could change her will and inherit her fortune.”

Dhole – Also known as the Asiatic wild dog, dholes live in eastern and Southeast Asia, including the Himalayas, parts of India and Siberia. They live and hunt in packs and look something like a red-headed coyote.  Lots of neat pictures and information here.

Dilettante – person who shows an interest in art, science or another body of knowledge, but only a superficial one.  A dabbler.  Margaret wrote poetry, the lovelorn, shallow observations a young student might pen upon completing a required course.  She liked to do this beside her lace-clad window in the early evening, the sash raised to admit birdsong and a glass of sherry nearby.

She hoped Mr. Eckert would ride by and see her there, and perhaps be moved to stop. Silly Mr. Eckert.  He told her once she was a dilettante. “When you’re serious about something, Miss Margaret, drop me a line,” he said.  He was so staid!

DJ – short for disc jockey, sometimes spelled as deejay. Originally the guy who played records over the radio, accompanied by patter and announcements.  The term has been credited to commentator Walter Winchell.  The letters DJ now stand in for the words.

Dorp – a village.  A village of derps, perhaps?

Draconian – unusually rigorous or cruel, as in laws, rules or punishments.  From Draco (650 BC), a 7th-century lawmaker who established a harsh code of law enforced by courts.

“Don’t you think cutting off Cordelia’s head for insulting a demon is a bit draconian?” Buffy said, brushing vamp dust off her stake.

“Where did you learn such a big word?” Giles mused.

Dugong – an herbivorous mammal related to the manatee, of the order Sirenia.


Momma and baby dugong. Aww.

Dwarf – a person of small stature caused by varying medical conditions.  Dwarfs prefer to be called little people.  Primordial dwarfism results in extremely tiny, though proportionate, people with a characteristic look to their facial features.  Lucia Zarate (1864-1890) was the first person identified with primordial dwarfism.  Like many unusual people in her time, she traveled with a circus sideshow.

With a few environmental modifications, little people can live normal lives, provided they don’t have serious medical problems. I would love to see a book with a little person protagonist.  There may be one or two; I don’t know.  If you know of one, please share in the comments.

Dystopia (dystopian) – In fiction, a dystopia is a nightmare world, the opposite of an ideal society or setting, characterized by authoritarian governments, substandard living conditions and a population that preys on each other instead of cooperating. They don’t have to be science fiction but often are.

George Orwell’s 1984 is the most famous dystopian novel.  Others include John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.    I have read all the books listed and highly recommend them.

That’s all for now, folks.  Go read something!