One of the perks of sorting books for the Friends’ various sales is that you earn free books for your time and trouble. A book I recently claimed is Word Nerd by Barbara Ann Kipfer, a collection of interesting words-thousands of them-their meanings and origins. Since you obviously like to read, you would probably enjoy browsing this 570-word entertainment. Following are a few samples.
- The word kangaroo probably came from the Aborigines word ganjurro, which meant “large black kangaroo.” A more fanciful story is that Captain Cook asked the name of that hopping animal and was told “kangaroo,” but Cook didn’t know that “kangaroo” meant “I don’t know.”
- Hexanol is the chemical that gives freshly mowed grass that wonderful smell.
- A lovely synonym for snowflake is snow-blossom.
- What is the only letter in the alphabet that takes three syllables to say? (Are you humming the song to get to the answer?) See below.
- If you have a skylight that can’t be opened, it’s a deadlight.
- The only word in the English language that consists of two letters used three times is “deeded.”
- The sound of a sword drawn from its sheath is a wheep. (Can’t you just hear that?)
- The single supercontinent before continental drift was Pangaea.
- The only fifteen-letter word that’s spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.
The Longmont Library doesn’t have Word Nerd in the catalog, but two other titles by Dr. Kipfer about language are in the collection. And if you have a modicum (Latin, literally a short amount of time) and aren’t afraid to moil (work hard), click here to become a sorter.
*Written by Carol Cail — Read more from Carol at carolcail.com
*Originally published in October 2014