WOD – Word Of the Day

Various WODs, Words Of the Day, mostly Alex’s and mine, will accumulate here.  They’ll be arranged orderly, perhaps because we were knuckle-rapped by abecedarian nuns or otherwise brutalized by obese penguins.  Perhaps not.  Each word’s main entry or citation form, e.g., Griffonage, will link back to at least one usage within Goat Waters.  Someday there’ll be here a Devil’s Dictionary of words worth knowing, and using.  I may cite the Oxford English Dictionary from our library, or one of the on-line dictionaries; more often I’ll expound.  You may ask yourself, “why does an antique pterodactyl decorate the top of this page?”  Jump down to Pishing, and you’ll quickly understand.  Let our WODs expand your vocabulary, and don’t be truculent about it.


  1. adj. 1. Of or pertaining to the alphabet; marked with the alphabet; arranged in alphabetical order.
  2. [The adj. used elliptically.] 2. One engaged in teaching the alphabet and merest rudiments of instruction.

– The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition


Griffonage.  Scribble, or chickenscratch – if you pull the chicken offstage with with a Vaudvillian sheppard’s crook and replace it with a griffon.  Griffons have much worse handwriting.


Antifogmatic.  I can imagine an entire menu of Antifogmatics, and a morning-after party that starts before dawn cracks when I set the needle down on the very name: Antifogmatic by the Punch Brothers.  The music will be rousing with the speakers set to vitalize, suddenly, the somnolent guests.  The tender will wander amongst them, balancing a tray of antifogmatics, offerings to each, as the guests peel themselves from the sofas, unslouch themselves from the recliners, and mumble for coffee – straight shots, if not intravenous.  They may look at me strange, but I won’t let them go, not ’til they’ve sampled, then slurped, a proper antejentacular brace – hair of the dog – before they’re booted, unceremoniously, into the rain spattered air or, worse, if they linger for seconds or thirds as the day clears its head, into the glare of bright sun.  You may ask, “where on a winter morn does one stumble across a word like antifogmatic?”  In Dave Broom’s Rum – The Manual –  and I’m sure you can understand why this WOD was lodged on The Stuttering Raven’s page.  And what is this antifogmatic concoction?  Yourdictionary.com suggests, “an alcoholic drink taken in the morning to brace oneself for going out into bad weather.”  Merriam-Webster.com prefers, “a drink of liquor taken to counteract the effect of fog or dampness.”  But, really, not what is it, generally, but what’s in it, specifically?  Where better to begin the search than at The Antifogmatic League?  Enjoy your dreary morning!


Mooseling.  I love capturing the inconsequential, yet interesting, events as they slide by us – or we by them.  In listing some of my skulls, I wrote “a baby moose” and immediately realized that “mooseling” is a much better single word for the pair, “baby moose,” even if it only saves a single space and no characters.  “Omit Needless Words!” shouts the wrinkled grammarian Strunk and White, his latter day apologist.  Though I often don’t omit needless words, this seemed a good place to follow Strunkian dictates, so I coined the word mooseling for my purposes, borrowing from feathered, flippered, and finned babes bearing diminutive -lings: goslings, froglings, and fingerling graylings.  Perfect coinage, I thought.  Having been caught out before in these circumstances, I took a moment to look up mooseling and I was both saddened and pleased, in equal measures, to learn mooseling was a rare, but historic word.  No neologism for me.  But, in fact, something curious and better: mooseling is a perfect anagram of neologism.  Almost too good to be true!  Like God smiling, and speaking with deified, if momentarily mortal, charm – wink, wink, nudge, nudge – to the first mom, “Madam, I’m Adam.”   Even I can live with that unexpected reversal.  If you enjoy bending your mind around anagrams, try out a perfect anagram generator, here.  If only mooseling and neologism were also semordnilaps.


Pishing.  It’s onomatopoetic for the sound made when you pump a P out through your lips, the unvoiced bilabial stop, and flow that stop seamlessly into the SH, equally unvoiced, but fricative.  PSHHHHHH.  Utter pshhhhhhhhh repeatedly and modulate the intensity, adding pauses long and short, so that the noises pique interest as the semi-sibilant sounds bracket the silences.  That’s Pishing.  You do it when birding, ostensibly to attract curious birds, but maybe to relieve yourself of tedium, or to convince yourself that you’re hurrying the birds to your bush, not unlike cross-walkers pressing the iconized placebo button and hoping for a sooner chance to legally pass across the road.  Pishing, or its placebo effect, also seems to work with ferrets and other curious animals. Like ferrets, pterodactyls aren’t birds, though they may have had more feathers than the great leathery-winged beasts drawn in the dinosaur books of my youth.  No-one disputes that they were, for a reptile, bird-like.  Protobirdian.  And how would you pish for a pterodactyl?  You’d probably make a raucous ruckus, then duck.  Sort of a like a band jumbled together once annually with musicians culled from the teaching staff, given a song list to work from, two or three practice sessions, then the opportunity for a live performance before the assembled student body, some members of which may or may not have wanted to hurl rotten fruits and veggies at the teachers, regardless of how they played.  Duck!  Somehow this led to my wife’s suggestion that that the band she played in be called “Pishing For Pterodactyls.”  Her bandmates were not amused, and they opted for “Mischief in the Bump-out.”  S, if you were curious, played the fiddle in that band.  If you’re even curiouser, a bump-out is an architectural anomaly where one parks the Dundar Jeep if you’re fooling around with Lady Mondagrin.  Dirty deeds, indeed.


Replicary.  Replicary is, I believe, my own nonce word, an occasionalism, intended as a term of venery for any collection of robots, artificially intelligent or entirely programmatic, which eliminate the charms of human, individual, handicraft manufacturing by pooping out scores of iterable and indistinguishable objects. A replicary of robots is the very antithesis of a craftsman or craftswoman whose every attempt at uniformity will invariably bear the traces of their humanity in the imperfection of their created objects when compared, piece by piece, to some unattainable, Platonic, ideal (cf. product text for the Hexagate hexagonal agates, somewhere on this website). [And that’s an improper use of cf., according to the Chicago Manual of Style, so if you caught that, just know that I did, too, but I’m following common usage, not the pedant’s manual, on this one; not to mention, most of this should be footnoted, but I’m not bothering. While I’m actively not footnoting, the “I believe” above refers to the live possibility that I’ve suffered a bout of cryptomnesia and actually picked up this term, replicary, from an outside source, suppressed the memory, and, like a buffoon, decided to parade it around as my own word; crytomnesiacs should be kept on a short leash.] But to the point…


Spilt.  Within the confines of The Stuttering Raven a spilt drink is something other than what you might guess.  While spilt is, or at least was, indisputably, the past participle of the verb spill, no one here has gone and tipped a drink over, unless it was to knock back the next sip, or the last.  That’s tippling: consumption, not waste; intention, not error.  Errant spills?  Not going to happen on nights at The Raven.  We cradle our glasses, protective of our spirits. … And yet, here, inside The Raven, the tender offers spilt drinks as a matter of course.  How?  Only by co-opting the word, expanding its possibility through creative redemption – the sin of spilling ushered into the glory of the spilt – which both honors the traditional meaning of the word, and inverts it, captures it, in such a fashion that a new nuance, or even a new meaning, is poured out, ready for assumption.  Redefinition.  Expansion of the possible into the realm of the actual by naming and then by action.  A spilt drink, at our bar, is a type of built drink, or, rather, a manner of building a drink.  Once built, it’s already been spilt, and it’s ready to sip…no stirring, no shaking.  And no drop wasted.  Closely watch, now, as we spill a Negroni Dark.  Set out a rocks glass.  Install one large, round, ice cube – ideally a gin clear ice cube.  Spill a measured ounce of gin over the curvature of the cube. We should call this cube what it is: an ice sphere, but by convention we don’t.  Regardless, the gin flows, and, except what clings to the cube, it falls to the bottom of the glass.  Spill an ounce of Vermouth over the cube.  Watch as it swirls itself into the Gin, mixing imperfectly.  Imperfectly only if ‘perfect mixing’ is defined as creating a homogeneous solution.  We do not seek homogeneity.  Now spill one ounce of Campari over the cube, watch it tumble and tangle with its predecessors.  These red tendrils are easier to spy as they reach into the comparatively limpid liquids already chilling in the bottom of the glass.  This slow, methodical build is the spilling of the drink.  The drink itself, when complete, when its construction is past tense, is spilt.  But we’re not past tense yet.  This Negroni has its spirits, but not its bitters.  Splash the Wormwood in.  Not much to see here, unless you’re watching very closely.  The Black Walnut Bitters are another thing entirely.  Dash them over the cube and around the cube.  Like an octopus’s ink, each dark drop will splay out into the Negroni until the drops meld, with each other, and with the drink into which they are splashed.  As the darkness unfolds within the glass, gently spend an eyedropper’s worth of Aromatic Bitters over the cube, letting this roll down the remnant, that bald, arctic knob, the exposed tip of the iceberg, and then out across the dark red sea – a float.  Garnish this Negroni with a twist of orange zest.  Slide this Negroni across the bartop to the guest who has watched you craft their drink.  They’ll take it reverently, and they won’t spill a drop.  Ever.

Featured Image, Credit Where Credit Is Due:  http://vintageprintable.swivelchairmedia.com/?attachment_id=4158 .

%d bloggers like this: