Color Me Bad

No, not the 90s boy band, but I sure did love them. Instead, let’s do a little learning, shall we? I was reading and I read something that I had to look up. At this point, I honestly don’t remember what it was. But I stopped reading and looked it up, which made me click on a link, which lead to another and another and another. And somehow, in the midst of all this, I ended up reading about manias, paraphilias and phobias. Basically, psychological terms for things that can be wrong with people.

Interesting, but heady, stuff, to be sure. So I read through these lists and was just sort of boggled by the whole thing. I mean, I’m a pretty educated person, but the sheer volume of things I didn’t know is kind of frightening. I guess knowing what I don’t know is part of my education, but that’s another story.

For instance, did you know that oniomania is an obsession with shopping? Or mottephobia is a fear of moths? I mean, that’s interesting. But then I saw a few that blew my mind. Now, I’ve long known of triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number 13. While being afraid of numbers is not something I get, I do understand the irrationality that is attached to that particular number. But, tetraphobia? Fear of the number four? What’s wrong with 4? Or how about hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia? Fear of the number 666. No, I’m not kidding. At this point, I’m more concerned about sesquipedalophobia, the fear of large words. (Seriously, even I couldn’t make this up.)

The thing that blew my mind, though was stumbling across porphyrophobia. The fear of the color purple. Purple! Aside from the fact it is my favorite color, I don’t understand. What is it that scares you? Color just is. It doesn’t do anything. How can it be scary? It’s like being scared of a piece of wood. Hylophobia. Nope, not kidding.

But then I kept looking and found.

Colorphobia – fear of color

Erythrophobia – fear of color red (also used for fear of blushing)

Chrysophobia – fear of color orange

Xanthophobia – fear of color yellow

Chlorophobia – fear of color green

Cyanophobia – fear of color blue

Porphyrophobia – fear of color purple

Leukophobia – fear of color white

Melanophobia – fear of color black

and, of course,

Iridophobia – fear of rainbows

All these years and suddenly my fear of chartreuse feels validated. I wonder what that would be. Since it’s a mix of yellow and green I’m leaning toward Xanthochlorophobia. I mean, come on.

Language, though, it’s a beautiful thing. Even if people are nutso, the words we’ve created never cease to marvel. And that’s how I abandoned my book for an hour of reading about strange words and writing this blog. Someday, if I ever write my book, expect one of my characters to suffer from a crazy fear, like koumpounophobia. Fear of buttons.

In the meantime, I’m more of a porphromaniac. One obsessed with purple. And a bibliomaniac. Obsessed with books. Perhaps even a logophile, obsessor of words. And that, my friends, is our very first TYNKYNK (for my new readers, that is Things You Never Knew You Never Knew, for weird stuff I like to teach on this blog) for 2016. I hope you learned something.


Spell Check

I’m an excellent speller. See here and here for more on that. As a librarian, believe it or not, I get asked “how do you spell ________” all the time. It’s a regular occurrence for me. And when one person hears me help with spelling, then it only increases the number of people who ask.

Whenever I am asked, I never don’t know. That was weirdly phrased. I always know. I don’t have to look. I’m an excellent speller, as I have already stated.

Until today.

I finally had to look up a “word”, AND it has the added distinction of being the most interesting “word” I’ve ever been asked to help with. I keep putting “word” in quotes because it is not technically a word, it is a name, comprised of four words.

Are you ready?

I’ll give you a hint, it’s starts with Bo…..

Anyone want to guess?

I’ll wait.

Are you back?

Bo Bo Skee Watan-Tatan

True story. For those who don’t know, that’s a childhood song. I recognized it immediately, but, for Heaven’s sake, who on Earth is going to know how to spell that?

I googled it and got a variety of responses (as you can imagine). However, the one listed above is the most commonly accepted spelling. When I spelled it for the student, she typed it in her paper and even MS Word accepted that, so there you go, I learned to spell Bo Bo Skee Watan-Tatan! So you better believe, if I ever get asked again, I’ll be able to spell it perfectly.

Clearly Defined

For some reason I’m tripping over words I don’t know today. That doesn’t happen to me all that often.


Today it happened three and a half separate times before lunch.

1. koan – a nonsense or paradoxical question for which an answer is expected. The thinking of the answer provides meditation or enlightenment.

After reading the definition and sorting it out in my brain, I’m not certain it was used correctly, but it was close enough. And it’s an unusual word, so it entertained me.

2. agrarian – of or relating to land, cultivating land, farmers. Also, wild (as in untamed).

This one came off the farmer’s market website Elena sent me, so I figured something of the sort, especially from context, but I still didn’t know what it actually meant, ergo, I looked it up. Agrarian of me, I know.

3. bagarre – fight or brawl.

Turns out, this is actually a French word, so I’m not that surprised that I didn’t know it. I loved how it was used (woman out in a club with her husband and another woman was being rude; her husband stopped her from stirring up a bagarre). It seemed so natural I could totally see this being adopted. Though, granted, there are a lot of words to describe this, so it isn’t strictly necessary, but cute nonetheless.

3.5 wack and whack – wack is something of dubious, bad, or unknown quality. Sometimes used to denote crazy. “That dude is wack!” whack is a verb meaning to hit something solidly or with force. “I whacked him upside his wack head.”

I actually knew this one, but I looked it up to verify that I was, indeed, correct and the blogger who wrote that she wanted to wack him upside his head was incorrect.

Yep, that’s a whole lot of definition for one morning. And hopefully you learned something.

Tickled My Fancy

I’ve got a thing for words, I’m pretty sure people know that. Since 2013 began, it seems I’ve been stumbling across so many different ones that make me happy. Here’s a sampling.

~Uxorious, which means excessively devoted to one’s wife

~Maritorious, which means excessively devoted to one’s husband

~filipendulous, hanging by a thread

~pogonotrophy, the act of growing and grooming facial hair

~zugzwang, being in a position where any move you make will cause you to lose (or have problems) – this is also a baader-meinhof because I recently heard this word in a television show, Criminal Minds, then bam! it popped up in my word of the day email. (Similar to this morning’s schadenfreude story, except I knew that word, so it was not a bm, but instead was synchronicity).

~ktenology, the science of putting people to death

~tarantism, the uncontrollable urge to dance

~scripturient, the violent need to write

And then there were series of related words. The first is time words:

~overmorrow, relating to the day after tomorrow

~hodiernal, relating to today

~hesternal, relating to yesterday

~nudiustertian, relating to the day before yesterday

~yestreen, yesterday evening.

Then, for fun, series words about series:

~penultimate, the next to last (I already knew this one, but I did NOT know)

~antepenultimate, the third to last

~preantepenultimate, the fourth to last

~ultrapreantepenultimate, the fifth to last (there is some dispute as to whether this is an actual term, but I keep seeing it)

The musical series:

~quaver, an eighth note

~semiquaver, a sixteenth note

~semidemiquaver, a thirty-second note

~hemidemisemiquaver, a sixty-fourth note

~quasihemidemisemiquaver, a one hundred twenty-eighth note (I found this under the heading “Prefixes gone wild”)

The seasonal series:

~vernal, relating to spring

~autumnal, relating to fall

Truthfully, I knew both of those. The vernal and autumnal equinoxes took care of that. However, have you ever wondered about the other two seasons?

~hiemal, relating to winter

~estival, relating to summer

And the group series:

~monad, a single unit

~dyad, a pair

~triad, a group of three

~tetrad, a group of four

~pentad, a group of five

~hexad, a group of  six

~hebdomad, a group of seven

~ogdoad, a group of eight

~ennead, a group of nine

~decad, a group of ten (from whence we get the word decade…)

~hendecad, a group of eleven

~dodecad, a group of twelve (from whence we get the word dodecahedron- or a twelve sided figure)

I could do this all day. There is little I love more than finding strange and bizarre words to help explain the world around me. Everything on here tickled my fancy, hopefully you found a little something fun for yourself. Pop into the comments and tell me which new word (or series of words) you like the best.

And this morning, a co-worker came to chat and said, “What kind of dinosaur knows a lot of words?”

“A Thesaurus”


Lastly, I’ll top it off with a quote I recently read. It was so appropriate I am thinking of making it my life motto. “This is the sort of thing that is extremely interesting if you are interested in this sort of thing.”