Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

holiday

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Christmastide and Twelvetide, is a festive season that starts on Christmas Day, December 25, and ends on January 5, known as the Twelfth Night, when Christmas decorations and trees are traditionally taken down. Today, December 26, is Boxing Day, which has nothing to do with two people trying to inflict brain damage on each other. Rather, this day acquired its name during Queen Victoria’s reign, when the rich would box up food and Christmas gifts to give to the poor.

At this time of year, many of us think about the seasonal song “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” but have you ever wondered why the true love gives the woman who tells the story not only a partridge but also an entire pear tree? That’s because in the early French version of the song, the suitor gifted only a partridge, which in French is rendered as une pertriz. A 1718 English version combined the two — “a partridge, une pertriz” — which came out sounding like “a partridge in a pear tree.” Ever since, the partridge has remained proudly perched in a pear tree.

As the gifts grow increasingly extravagant, at the end of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the narrator’s house is crammed with an aviary of 142 assorted birds plus 140 hyperactive humans! Here’s a far simpler version I invented, “A Cat’s Twelve Days of Christmas”:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my human gave to me
Twelve bags of catnip,
Eleven cans of tuna,
Ten ornaments hanging,
Nine wads of Kleenex,
Eight pillow beds,
Seven litter boxes,
Six rising ramps,
Five scratching posts,
Four cat climbers,
Three cutesy toys,
Two fuzzy mice,
And a hamster in a plastic ball!

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Merriam-Webster has announced that pandemic is its 2020 Word of the Year.                                                  “Sometimes a single word defines an era, and it’s fitting that in this exceptionally difficult year, a single word came immediately to the fore as we examined the data that determines what our Word of the Year will be,” the publishing company said.

The word epidemic originated with the Greek epidemia, constructed from epi, “among,” and demos, “people,” as in democracy. The pan in pandemic means “all,” as in Pan American, panorama and panacea. Following the analogy of pantheon, the poet John Milton, in his epic poem Paradise Lost, welded together pan, “all,” and demon, “devil,” to forge pandemonium, which literally means “a place of all demons.” Because Satan and his company were noisy and mischief-making, the meaning of pandemonium has broadened to mean “uproar or tumult.”

Other pandemic words and compounds that spiked in 2020 include COVID-19, quarantine, asymptomatic, social distancing (I prefer physical distancing), super-spreader, P.P.E., contact tracing, essential / frontline workers, food insecurity, virtual learning and Zoom.

COVID-19 was first sighted in February, and Merriam-Webster put up a dictionary definition 34 days later, the fastest journey from conception to formal recognition in the company’s nearly 200-year history.

Two new pandemic words are wonderfully playful. Each is a portmanteau word that humorously joins the beginning of one word with the end of another. Covidiot describes a person who behaves recklessly during these perilous times. Blursday captures the experience, as the days melt together, of not knowing what day it is unless we check a phone, calendar or newspaper.

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This notice appears in French churches:

En entrant dans cette église, il est possible que vous entendiez l’appel de Dieu. Par contre, il n’est pas susceptible de vous contacter par téléphone. Merci d’avoir éteint votre téléphone. Si vous souhaitez parler à Dieu, entrez, choisissez un endroit tranquille et parlez lui. Si vous souhaitez le voir, envoyez-lui un SMS en conduisant.

Translation: It is possible that on entering this church, you may hear the Call of God. On the other hand, it is not likely that He will contact you by phone. Thank you for turning off your phone. If you would like to talk to God, come in, choose a quiet place and talk to Him. If you would like to see Him, send Him a text while driving.