Let’s Talk About… Pleonasms

Webster’s New International Dictionary defines redundancy as “the generic term for the use of more words than are needed to express one’s meaning.”


A pleonasm is the rhetorical term for redundancy, specifically talking about words that could be eliminated and yet the meaning of the phrase would be the same.

Pronounced “PLEE-uh-naz’m” it comes through Latin from the Greek pleonasmos, abundance, which comes in turn from pleonazein, to be excessive, and pleion, more.

There are different types of pleonasms (such as double negatives), since it is often used purposely for a specific linguistic effect. But there are some pleonasms that we use in everyday life without realizing that we are being redundant.

So here is a list of redundant words and phrases that make us redundant when speaking without realizing we are being redundant (see what I did there?):

  • Tuna Fish: We already know that tuna is a fish
  • ATM Machine: Automatic Teller Machine Machine
  • PIN Number: Personal Identification Number Number
  • Safe Haven: A safe safe place
  • Null and Void: A legal term, they both mean the same thing
  • Terms and Conditions: See above
  • Cease and Desist: See above again
  • Free Gift: A gift is always free
  • Raise your hands up: If you raise them, they are already up
  • Nape of the neck: You only have one nape and it’s already on your neck
  • Head honcho: Borrowed from Japanese, honcho means “leader” or “head of the group”, so you are saying the head head of the group
  • Frozen Tundra: Tundra, by definition, is frozen
  • Advance planning:  Planning is always done in advance
  • Poisonous venom: Venom, by definitions, is poisonous already
  • Unexpected Surprise: Isn’t it obvious by now?


What other pleonasms do you know?


(Resources: Wikipedia, Authors Guild, Mental Floss, Fun with Words)

Absolute Nonsense (A Whole List of It!)

I never knew there were quite so many words for “nonsense” until I stumbled upon this list by The Phrontistery. (I swear, I didn’t make them up myself)

You may not believe it, but all of these words (over 60 of them) all mean the exact same thing: Complete and total nonsense.

It’s strange, but it’s not entirely surprising. What better way to discredit an opponents argument, then claim that it’s complete rubbish, hogwash, baloney… you get the idea.


ackamarackus pretentious or deceptive nonsense
baboonery foolishness; stupidity; nonsense
balderdash nonsense; a jumble of words
ballyhoo bombastic or pretentious nonsense
baloney humbug; nonsense
bambosh deceptive nonsense
bilge lower point of inner hull of a ship; nonsense or rubbish
blague humbug; pretentious nonsense
blague pretentious nonsense
blarney skilful flattery; nonsense
bletherskate a garrulous talker of nonsense
brimborion worthless nonsense; trash
bugaboo loud or empty nonsense
buncombe speech-making intended for the mass media; humbug
bunk nonsense; humbug
bushwa nonsense
cack rubbish; worthless nonsense
claptrap showy language designed to gain praise; nonsense
clatfart idle chatter; nonsense
codswallop something utterly senseless; nonsense
effutiation twaddle; humbug
eyewash humbug; something done merely for effect
fadoodle nonsense
falderal nonsense; meaningless refrain of a song
fandangle pretentious tomfoolery
fiddlededee nonsense
fiddle-faddle trifling talk
flam humbug; trickery
flannel ostentatious nonsense
flapdoodle gross flattery; nonsense
flimflam nonsense; trickery
flummadiddle nonsense; humbug
flummery anything insipid; empty compliment; humbug
fribble frivolous nonsense; a trifling thing or person
fustian pretentious writing or speech; inflated or nonsensical language
galbanum nonsense; a kind of gum resin
galimatias nonsense; confused mixture of unrelated things
gammon to feign an action; perpetrate a hoax on; nonsense, rubbish
gibberish nonsense talk
grimgribber learned gibberish; legal jargon
haver foolish nonsense
hibber-gibber gibberish
hogwash nonsense; worthless idea
hooey nonsense; humbug
humbug nonsense
jabberwock nonsense, gibberish
jiggery-pokery deceptive or manipulative humbug
kelter nonsense
kidology deceptive trickery; nonsense
linsey-woolsey coarse inferior wool or wool-flax weave; nonsense or confusion
macaroni nonsense; foolishness
malarkey humbug; nonsense
morology nonsense
mullock nonsense; rubbish
mumbo-jumbo obscure nonsense
narrischkeit foolishness; nonsense
nugament nonsense; trifle
phonus-bolonus exaggerated trickery or nonsense
piddle nonsense
pigwash rubbish; nonsense
poppycock humbug; nonsense
posh nonsense
quatsch nonsense
rannygazoo foolish nonsense
razzmatazz meaningless talk; hype; nonsense
rhubarb nonsense; actors’ nonsense background chatter
riddle-me-ree nonsense language
rottack rubbish; nonsense
schmegeggy nonsense; an idiot
shuck nonsense
skittles rubbish; nonsense
slipslop nonsensical talk
spinach nonsense
squit silly talk; nonsense; an insignificant person
stultiloquence foolish or senseless talk
taradiddle senseless talk; deception; nonsense
tarradiddle lie; falsehood; nonsense; fib
tootle nonsensical writing or speech
tosh rubbish; drivel; nonsense
trumpery deception; trickery; showy nonsense
twaddle rubbish; nonsense

I’m sure there are more out there, and the list will never end, because only having only one word for nonsense? What poppycock.

Video: Mental Floss’ “79 Common Mispronunciations”

I don’t often discuss pronunciations on here because you basically have to learn a whole new language to understand the traditional pronunciation guide.

Well, not a new language, but literally a new alphabet. The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a visual representation of the sounds different consonants, vowels, and diphthongs make when spoken out loud.

Again, this isn’t something I plan on digging into often. But I couldn’t help but share this video from Mental Floss, starring the hilarious John Green, about a few common mispronunciations.


LSSU’s List of Banished Words (Plus, A Few of My Own)

I love words. I do. But I have to admit… I don’t like all of them.

In a recent post, I talked about the winners for various Word of the Year awards, and these were words that have seen drastic increases in usage and influence. But let’s be honest… there are some words that have become over-used as well.

While doing my research for my WotY post, I stumbled across a slightly different list put together by Lake Superior Sate University in Canada.

In 1977, they begun a tradition of putting together an annual List of Banished Words. Born from a conversation during a New Year’s Eve party, the lists full title is “LSSU’s Annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.” I think that about sums it up.

If you want to see LSSU’s list, check it out here. It features some great words and phases such as “break the internet”, “secret sauce”, “vape”, and “manspreading”. It’s wonderful, it’s inspired, and it’s much needed.

I decided I wanted in on the trend too, so here is my own personal list of Banished Words from 2015. All definitions are (appropriately) from Urban Dictionary.



Definition: Used to describe someone devoid of defining characteristics that might make a person interesting, extraordinary, or just simply worth devoting time or attention to.

Used in a sentence: “Wearing UGGs and drinking PSLs is so basic.”

My thoughts: I’m over it. Girls don’t deserve a derogatory label for liking the same things as other girls. The use of the word basic is starting to be… basic.


Ride or Die

Definition: The people in your life who are there through thick in thin (A conjunction of the phrases “ride it out” and “die trying”)

Used in a sentence: “My best friends will always be my ‘ride or die’s.”

My thoughts: Can we please talk about how “ride or die” isn’t a noun? And can’t exactly be plural?



Definition: Something that is more awesome than awesome. It is a modifier of your basic awesome into a more awesome version.

Used in a sentence: You good for plans tonight? Yea? Awesomesauce.

My thoughts: I’m sorry, am I putting together a list of words from the 90s?? Awesomesauce (and it’s friend ‘cool beans’) need to return to the past.



Definition: The act of moving/shaking ones [buttocks] in a circular, up-and-down, and side-to-side motion.

Used in a sentence: “Look at that drunk girl over there, twerking on all the guys!”

My thoughts: While everyone attributes the word, and possibly dance move, to Miley Cyrus, it’s been around much longer than that. And it’s welcome to leave now. The dance move isn’t going to go away (been to a high school dance recently?), but at least we could stop talking about it.



Definition: Term of endearment, shorthand for “before anyone else”.

Used in a sentence: “I can’t hang out tonight, I’m staying at home with bae!”

My thoughts: Please. No. And I won’t even mentioned the whole Danish poop thing. Oh, whoops, I did!


On Fleek

Definition: The quality of being perfect, or on point.

Used in a sentence: “I just got my eyebrows done, and they are on fleek!”

My thoughts: After going viral from a Vine video, this word even landed in a Nicki Minaj song. There are so many words for looking good, and this is what we ended up with? It has a certain ring to it, but it’s complete nonsense.



Definition: A clever solution to a tricky problem.

Used in a sentence: “I just tested out this awesome life hack from Pinterest!”

My thoughts: The word you are looking for is ‘tip’. Pretty much every use of the word ‘hack’ requires extra effort, instead of saving people time.



Definition: To get hyped, to get excited for something, usually a party. Often used to mean drunk or high. Short for ‘turned up’.

Used in a sentence: “Let’s go out to the club and get turnt tonight!”

My thoughts: !?!?!?!?!?!?!?!


I can’t even

Definition: An expression that denotes so many emotional responses that the user can’t even comprehend what has been said or seen.

Used in a sentence: “OMG, did you hear what she just said? I can’t even!”

My thoughts: Ok, I won’t lie. I use this all the time. Maybe I’ll banish it next year? No guarantees.


(Resources: Metro, Time, Patch, Urban Dictionary)


Pop Culture Quest: How I Met Your Mother

One of my favorite shows of all time, CBS’s How I Met Your Mother (or HIMYM for short) is well known for spawning neologism’s left and right. The cult sit-com follows five friends in New York City as Ted Mosby, the main character, searches for his future wife.

As far as their extensive vocabulary of words and phrases that have entered pop culture, let’s be honest. Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris, is responsible for most of them.


Here are a few of my favorites!

Revertigo: The change that happens to someone’s personality when he or she spends time with someone from his or her past.

Desperation Day: Feb. 13, the last day to find someone with whom to spend Valentine’s Day

woo-girlsWoo Girls: Single women who go out in large groups and yell “wooo!” a lot—even when nothing is actually exciting them

Steak sauce: A-1, the tops, the best, awesome.

Superdate: One date that includes “17 dates-worth of romance”

Lawyered: What a lawyer says upon winning an argument. (Not actually invented by HIMYM, but often used by Marshal)

Suit Up!: A common declaration by Barney, referring to his policy of wearing a suit for almost every occasion and often expecting others to do the same.

The Bro Code: a set of written rules for bros to follow635603241805640236-306960360_Hot Crazy Scale

The Hot/Crazy Scale: A person is allowed to be crazy, as long as they are equally hot. A
graph is used to display someone’s hot-to-crazy ratio. Ideally, you want your date to be above the diagonal line, indicating that they are hotter than they are crazy.

Slap Bet: The bet to end all bets. If you win, you can slap the person in the face as hard as you can.

On The Hook: A relationship between two people- person A is infatuated with person B, person B likes being adored, but isn’t ever going to date them. Person A is “on the hook.”

The Dobler-Dahmer Theory: “If both people are into each other, then a big romantic gesture works: Dobler, but if one person isn’t into the other, the same gesture comes off serial-killer crazy: Dahmer.” “Dobler” refers to Lloyd Dobler from the late 1980’s romantic comedy film, Say Anything, while the Dahmer is referenced to serial killer Jeffery Dahmer.

Graduation Goggles: The nostalgic feeling one has about a time or someone in their life when it is about to end, even if the time/that person was completely miserable. As soon as you are about to leave, quit or break up with someone or something, you start to enjoy everything you hated about it before because you realize that it will soon be gone forever.

ewok_line-thumb-330x199-73183.jpgThe Ewok Line: The Ewok line correlates the birth year of a person and the subsequent appreciation of Ewoks. It is used to determine whether someone is too old for you to date.

The Chain of Screaming Theory: The Chain of Screaming (also known as The Circle of Screaming or The Pyramid of Screaming), states that once screamed at by a higher authority, one must scream at an inferior.

The Lemon Law: The Lemon Law entitles either party on a date to call off the date within the first five minutes with no repercussions or hard feelings. Just cite Lemon Law and you’re out.

The Mermaid Theory: Theory that single men and married women can’t really be friends,
because every woman, no matter how initially 5727734409_aaec2abfberepugnant, has a mermaid clock— the time it takes for a man to realize he wants to sleep with her. This is due to a woman’s hotness being in direct proportion to the time exposed to her

The Sexless Inkeeper: When you have someone go home with from the bar just because they want to sleep at your place for free, not to be actually with you.

Platinum Rule: Never date someone you will see on a regular basis. Such relationships never work out in the end and lead to never-ending suffering as those involved would constantly see each other.

Nothing Good Happens After 2 A.M. Rule: … Exactly what it sounds like.


Thanks for joining me today! Want more Pop Culture Quests? Check out my two part series on Harry Potter here and here, as well as Jurassic World here.

(Resources: Time, Tampa Bay Times, EW, The HIMYM Wiki, Buzzfeed)

Listophilia: Wedding Vocab

Welcome to Listophilia!

For my day job, I’m an event coordinator at a small (but beautiful) event center. We are booked almost every weekend with weddings, so I tend to have matrimony on the brain.

Wedding vocabularies can be extensive, especially since there are so many elements: dresses, food, attendents, etc.

For todays Listophilia, I put together a lovely list (that contains other lists) of some odd-ball wedding-related words. I know you’ve heard of RSVPs, sweetheart necklines, and tiered cakes, but what about dingbats? Gobos?

No? Well, lets hop right in then.


  • Cornelli: A form of piping that creates a three-dimensional pattern of lace and squiggles
  • Dagrees: Small confectionary balls made of sugar, often with a hard outer shell
  • Fondant: edible icing used to decorate or sculpt cakes with a smooth texture and finish
    • The word “fondant” is French in origin, coming from the same root word as “fondue” and “foundry”, meaning “melting”
  • Ganache: A dark, rich combination of chocolate and cream used as a filling or icing
  • Marzipan: Hardened almond paste and sugar, this confection is traditionally used to make realistic cake decorations
    • The exact etymology of “marzipan” is unclear. The Old English equivalent, “marchpane”, was largely replaced by the German “marzipan”, but they both have the same root meaning of “March Bread”. The original meaning could’ve come from Latin (via the Italian word “Marzapane“) or Arabic (via the Spanish word “mazapán“), and there’s also a case that it came from the Persian word “marzban”. Check out the OED for more options, but we may never know.


Cake with fondant design



  • Biedermeier: A bouquet made up of concentric circles of different flowers for a striped effect
  • Boutonnieres: A single bloom (or several small buds) attached to the left lapel of a jacket. Boutonnieres are usually worn by grooms, groomsmen, ushers, and the bride and groom’s fathers.
    • Originally, boutonnieres were a spray of flowers worn in the button hole of a mans jacket, hence the words origin from the French word for “button hole”. However, they are now more commonly pinned onto the lapel of the mans jacket.
  • Pomander: A round “ball” of flowers suspended from a ribbon handle
    • While now used decoratively, pomanders used to have an entirely different purpose. The first pomanders were balls of perfume, worn in medieval times to protect against infection, or merely balance the pungent smell of the unwashed masses.
  • Topiary – Flowers or plants trimmed into geometric shapes


Biedermeier floral design



  • Deckle Edge: Rough, uneven edges on paper that give it an Old World look. Edges are more often torn or die cut to make them look unfinished.
    • A “deckle” is a removable wooden frame or “fence” used in manual papermaking. Originally, deckle edges were unavoidable because the deckle can’t guarantee a water tight seal when pressing the paper pulp. However, now deckle edges are often purposely made by tearing or cutting for the aesthetic.
  • Die cut: A precision cut mainly used in folder cards to create a “window” to text or images behind the first card, often made by lasers
  • Dingbat: A typographical term for a decorative motif used on stationery
    • This word has a wider use outside of wedding invites to mean any ornament, character, or spacer used intypesetting. Some fonts have symbols and shapes in the positions designated for alphabetical or numeric characters, or in the case of the Wingdings font, it’s made entirely of dingbats.


Skyline dingbats on a wedding invitation


Weddings around the world:

  • Nikah– The name of a Muslim wedding ceremony.
  • Chuppah: a decorated piece of cloth held aloft by four poles that Jewish couples are married under, symbolizing a ‘home’ for the new couple
  • Koumbaro (male)/Koumbara (female):  the person who will officially sponsor the marriage in Greek Orthodox Christian weddings
  • Mantilla: A bridal veil based on a Spanish lace or silk scarf worn over the hair and shoulders
  • Bomboniere – The Italian word for wedding favors, which often include Jordan almonds.
    • Jordan almonds are a classic form of dagrees!


Lace and birch chuppah

Did you like todays version of Listophilia? Take a moment to check out previous posts, including Phobia’s and Sesquipedalian Words.


(Resources: Bridal Guide, Vocabulary.com, Wedding Zone)

Mental Floss’s “11 Words You Might Not Realize Come from ‘Love’ ”

Happy Belated Valentines Day, readers!

Yes, I know I missed it, but I was way behind on my last post and needed to get it up ASAP. So, here we are. Pretend for me that it’s still Valentines Day?

Todays post is borrowed from one of my favorite publications, Mental Floss. They put up this lovely post for V-Day, and I enjoyed seeing how many ordinary words have their roots in the reason for this particular season.

Let’s take a look!


11 Words You Might Not Realize Come from “Love”

By Mental Floss contributor Arika Okrent


In Old English, believe was geliefan, which traces back to the Germanic galaubjan, where laub is the root for “dear” (so “believe” is “to hold dear”). Laub goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root for “love,” leubh.


We got furlough from the Dutch verlof, which traces back to the same Germanic laub root as in believe. It is also related to the sense of leave meaning allowance or permission (“get leave,” “go on leave”). The “leave” in a furlough is given with pleasure, or approval, which is how it connects back to love.


Old English Frigedæg was named for Frigg, the Germanic goddess of love (and counterpart to the Roman Venus). According to the OED, frīg was also a noun for “strong feminine” love.


Venom comes from the Latin venenum, which shares a root with love-goddess Venus, and originally referred to a love potion.


The root of amateur is Latin amare, “to love.” An amateur practices a craft simply because they love it.


The Latin caritas, which ended up as charity in English, was a different kind of love than amor, implying high esteem and piety, rather than romance and passion. It was used to translate the Ancient Greek agape, the word used in the New Testament to express godly love.


Greek had another word for love, philia, that—in contrast to agape and eros (sexual love)—meant brotherly or friendly love. It’s used in many classical compounds to signify general fondness or predilection for things. Philosophy is the love of sophos, wisdom.


Love of anthropos, humanity.


You might know it as the “city of brotherly love,” but you might not know that the tagline is right there in the name. It’s love for adelphos, brother.


The name Philip comes from the compound phil– + hippos, love of horses.


Have you been taking acidophilus probiotic supplements for digestive health? It’s made from acid-loving bacteria, i.e., bacteria that easily take up an acid dye for viewing under the microscope.


Thanks Mental Floss! Again, to see the original article, check it out here. Also, if you like reading about words that derive from the Greek word “phil”, meaning love, check out my post about “philias”!

The Votes are In!: 2015 Words of the Year

It’s an annual tradition for the big names in the dictionary community to look over the newest and more notable words of the previous year and decide on what they believe were the most significant.

2015 did not disappoint. Amidst popular nominations like “deflategate” and “dadbod”, the community took a fast and loose approach to choosing their”word” of the year. 2015 official choices include a rising gender neutral pronoun, a suffix, and…yes… an emoji.





“In 2015, Dictionary.com saw a number of themes emerge in the words that gained enough traction to be added to the dictionary along with words that trended in user lookups. The most prominent theme across both of these areas was in the expanding and increasingly fluid nature of conversations about gender and sexuality. Additionally, the theme of racial identity led to some of the most notable headlines and new additions to Dictionary.com this year.

Encapsulating the most robust fields of language evolution and user interest this year, Dictionary.com’s 2015 Word of the Year is identity.”- Dictionary.com


Vocabulary.com & American Dialect Society


“One intriguing choice has emerged among language scholars: they  used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. While they has filled the gap for centuries when speakers and writers have needed a third-person singular pronoun that does not specify gender, this year it has taken on new prominence.” –Vocabulary.com

“The use of singular they builds on centuries of usage, appearing in the work of writers such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen. In 2015, singular they was embraced by the Washington Post style guide. Bill Walsh, copy editor for the Post, described it as “the only sensible solution to English’s lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun.” While editors have increasingly moved to accepting singular they when used in a generic fashion, voters in the Word of the Year proceedings singled out its newer usage as an identifier for someone who may identify as “non-binary” in gender terms.” –American Dialect Society

Want to see more of the ADS nominations? Check them out here.




“A suffix is the Word of the Year because a small group of words that share this three-letter ending triggered both high volume and significant year-over-year increase in lookups at Merriam-Webster.com. Taken together, these seven words represent millions of individual dictionary lookups.” –Merriam-Webster


The Oxford Dictionary


“That’s right – for the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is a pictograph: 😂, officially called the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji, though you may know it by other names. Emojis (the plural can be either emoji or emojis) have been around since the late 1990s, but 2015 saw their use, and use of the word emoji, increase hugely.

This year Oxford University Press have partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world, and 😂 was chosen because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that 😂 made up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014.” –Oxford Dictionaries


Collins Dictionary


“‘Binge-watch’ (To watch a large number of television programmes, especially all the shows from one series, in succession) has been named Collins Word of the Year 2015 thanks to a dramatic increase in usage.”  –Collins


Around the World

Want some more WOTY’s? All of the above were English choices, so here are some other selections from various languages and countries around the world.

New Zealand: Public Address

Quax:  to shop, in the western world, by means of walking, cycling or public transit.

Australia: Australian National Dictionary Centre 

sharing economy : an economic system based on sharing of access to goods, resources, and services, typically by means of the Internet’

South Africa: LitNet Journal

#: The word of the year is the hashtag symbol.

China: Chinese National Language Monitoring and Research Center

: incorrupt

Japan: Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation

The kanji for “an”: safety or security

Spain: Fundación del Español Urgente & Portugal: Porta Editora

Refugiado: refugee

Germany: Langenscheidt

Smombie: A teenage who is too engrossed in their phone to pay attention to where they are going as they are walking down the street


Interesting Note: Entities in Spain, Portugal, Germany, and Denmark all had a variation of “refugee” as their Word of the Year.


Want more? The Oxford University Press put together an amazing list of more 2015 nominations and choices. Check it out here.

The Fungus (Names) Among Us

With names like Asterophora lycoperdoides and Cortinarius alboviolaceus, you can imagine how unsurprised I am that the names of fungi aren’t exactly common dinner party conversation. But what if I told you those two genus of fungi also went by the names ‘Powdery Piggyback’ and ‘Pearly Webcap’?

Interested now? Me too!

All it took was a Mental Floss article about “70 Totally Amazing Common Names for Fungi“, and I was hooked. In addition to their scientific names, most genus of fungi also have a common English name (and that’s where they get really fun).

The whole list can be found here on the British Mycological Society’s website. They even have a process for naming the fungi, which has its own protocol and approval process. Is it just me, or would you love to be part of the meeting to determine whether to accept names like ‘Big Smoky Bracket’ or ‘Lawyer’s Wig’?

Here are a few of my favorite English names from the Mental Floss list, with a picture added:

Twisted Deceiver Edit

Turquoise Elfcup Edit

Snaketongue Truffleclub Edit

Pink Disco Edit

Scurfy Twigliet Edit

Purple Jellydisc Edit

Dewdrop Dapperling Edit

Plums and Custard Edit

Destroying Angel Edit

Devils Fingers Edit

Bulbous Honey Fungus Edit

Cinnamon Jellybaby Edit

Dark Crazed Cap Edit

Contorted Strangler Edit

Cabbage Parachute Edit

Bonfire Cauliflower Edit

Barometer Earthstar Edit

Crypib Bonnet Edit

Drunkstick Truffleclub Edit


Can’t get enough? Here are a few more wonderful names that I found on the full list:

Scarlett Caterpillarclub, Bug Sputnik, The Miller, Chicken Run Funnel, Dwarf Spindles, Golden Navel, Giant Puffball, Deceiving Bolete, Sandy Stiltball, Ringless Honey Fungus, Hintapink, and Potato Earthball.

(Resources: Mental Floss, The British Mycological Society, photos of the fungi from various sources but the images are my own)

Merry Xmas, Everyone

It’s my favorite holiday and the most wonderful time of the year! My house is covered in Xmas lights, presents for my family are stacked until my Xmas tree, and I’ve already started putting on my Xmas weight.

Now, why do I keep repeating Xmas? Lets talk about it.


I’m sure you have all heard about people being offended at the use of “Xmas” instead of “Christmas”. It’s often  because they believe that it’s disrespectful to Christianity and its intent is to “remove Christ from Christmas”. Is there any truth in this?

Nope. Not at all.

I can see why some people might prefer the full traditional/proper spelling, but the idea behind the shorter version was never meant to be offensive. The shortening of Christmas to Xmas actually goes farther back in history than many other Christmas traditions (I’m looking at you, Elf on the Shelf).

The “X” in Xmas actually comes from the Greek spelling of Christ: ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ. That first letter is the Greek letter Chi (rhymes with shy). So, Xmas is literally an abbreviation of ‘Christ’ and ‘Mas’. The X is not marking out Christ, as some might say, but just a shortened version of the name that religious scholars have been using for years.

And, in fact, its even more powerful than that. The letter Chi was used by early Greek scholars to indicate something “good” or “notable”. The symbol, later merged with the Greek letter Rho, became a powerful religious symbol called the Chi-Rho.



Emperor Constantine even went to battle with the Chi-Rho on his flags. At a time when the modern Christian cross wasn’t used, the Chi-Rho was THE symbol for Christianity.

I love how the blog So Long As Its Words puts it: The Chi-Rho “is what we call a nomen sacrum, a sacred name, in which the symbol itself has power. In such cases, the abbreviation is not used to save space or effort, but because that form has more power than the full words. It was ‘not really devised to lighten the labours of the scribe, but rather to shroud in reverent obscurity the holiest words of the Christian religion’.”

As early as 1485, the Chi alone began being substituted for the name of Christ in words such as christened and names like Christine and Christopher. The Online Etymology Dictionary points to 1551 as the first year that we started seeing the Xmas abbreviation.




With Xmas/Christmas coming up, I want to thank each and every one of my readers for checking out my little blog. I hope you have a wonderful holiday (whichever one you celebrate) with family, friends, and fattening foods!

Resources: So Long As Its Words full article, Today I Found Out, Dictionary.com, Mental Floss
(Want more proof? Even Snopes, the reigning king of rumor/myth debunking, is eager to clear this up for you.)


Sometimes you come across a blog that is so hilarious, you have to share it when it relates to your own material. Names are words and words are names, so I give you: Stupid Nail Polish Names.

The blogger (whose name isn’t disclosed) writes about exactly what you would think… the ridiculous, poorly punctuated, and sometimes completely racist names given to nail polishes. The blogger covers a variety of different brands, but I chose 13 of my favorites from O-P-I, one of the best known names in the nail polish game.

The commentary makes me laugh out loud every time, so the excerpts you will see below are all from SNPN. Enjoy!


Lemonade Stand By Your Man

Lemonade Stand By Your Man

“Honey, let me give you a little advice. If you are having issues with your man, you might want to consider whether they spring from the fact that you appear to be the owner and operator of a lemonade stand, a time-honored profession practiced primarily by eight-year-olds. Statistically speaking, this means that your man is probably either a pre-teen or a pedophile.”


I’m Not Really A Waitress

“That’s right, honey, you’re a nail polish.”


Give Me Moor!

“Wow, really? Really? How did nobody’s offensiveness radar go off when you named a nail polish after a race of people, colored it to approximate their skin tone, and then asked to possess them?”

Deer Valley Spice

Deer Valley Spice

“Here is a list of things that should be named “Deer Valley Spice”:

1) A scented candle used in a hunting lodge

2) The mildly scandalous gossip column on the back page of a Massachusetts preparatory school newspaper

3) The cologne dabbed behind the ear of an ever-so-smooth 46-year-old gentleman as he prepares to head out to the local bar with all the temptingly tipsy co-eds

4) An exotic blend of seven different kinds of pepper that you buy at Williams Sonoma because it’s only $8.95 and you just know it will give your arugula salad that little extra something, but no matter how hard you strain your taste buds, it just tastes like regular pepper, and then you realize that you don’t even like arugula

5) The racy series of novels that results when the Sweet Valley twins grow up to find that the Unicorn Club has developed into a prostitution ring…but can Elizabeth’s journalistic skills save the day?

This nail polish, however, is none of these things. Nor is it remotely near the color of a deer, a valley, or any spice found in nature.”


Miso Happy With This Color

“This name is pretty subtle, so let me break it down for you. You see, “miso” sounds like “me so,” which is what all Asian people say instead of the grammatically correct “I’m so.” Man, sometimes people who grow up speaking a different language don’t have a perfect grasp of English. Ha ha, I sure love to laugh at them for trying!

Also, I love how in classic OPI style, randomly inserting the name of a soup (a soup that is not even remotely the same color as this nail polish, I feel obliged to pedantically point out) makes this a brilliant pun.”

Friar, Friar, Pants on Fire!

Friar, Friar, Pants on Fire!

“However, I have to question the accuracy of this particular polish name. Do friars even wear pants? I mean, I’m sure they do now, but the traditional image is a cassock or something, isn’t it? I admit that “Friar, Friar, Vestments on Fire!” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.”


Baby It’s “Coal” Outside!

“Really? This was the nail polish you were so excited about that you busted out the exclamation point?

Here’s an idea: if you only have enough currency at the Punctuation Store to pick out one present for yourself, how about investing in a comma? I know, it doesn’t have the flash of an exclamation point, but the upside is that you will look a lot less like an idiot, with the pleasant side-effect of being grammatically correct.”

Uh-oh Roll Down the Window

Uh-oh Roll Down The Window

“Too late, this nail polish name already made me vomit.”


Fiji Weejee Fawn

“I just…I just don’t even. What is this? I would accuse this bizarre and incomprehensible name of being selected by the world’s least propitious random noun generator, but that would be far too generous considering that an entire third of this name is not in fact a noun and is not, so far as I can tell, even a word at all.”


(And my personal favorite…) Princesses Rule!

“I’m pretty sure that, by definition, they don’t.”

A few BONUS names:


Catherine The Grape


Vould U Like A Lick-tenstein?

Don't Socra-tease Me!

Don’t Socra-tease Me!


Like what you read? Make sure to check out the SNPN blog for the full commentaries. The last post was made in August of 2014, but here’s to hoping that it becomes active again someday!

Resources: Stupid Nail Polish Names, photos from “Nail Polish Diva” or OPI 

Mental Floss: What do you call…

Remember the day you learned that the dot on the top of a lower-case “i” was called a tittle?

I love learning obscure words for everyday things, so I wanted to share a fun infographic from Mental Floss with all kinds of names that you may have not already known! Check it out below, or the full image here.


Extra fact: A tittle isn’t just the dot on an ‘i’ or ‘j’, but it has a larger meaning of any ‘small distinguishing mark’, or to indicate an extremely minor detail. The word can be found in the Christian Bible, in Matthew 5:18: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”


Hello dear readers!!

The craziest month of the year for writers is fast approaching, and I couldn’t be more excited. Just as I have done for the three years, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo 2015 in November (What is that, you ask? Check out the link!). Not only will be I writing 50,000 words in one month, but I am also the Municipal Liaison (aka city organizer/event planner) for my region. This means a lot of fun, but time-consuming, work. To be able to give this responsibility my full attention, I will be going on a brief hiatus from Once Upon A Lexicon, but I’m looking forward to being back with you at the end of the year!

Thanks for reading,


Let’s Talk About… Collective Nouns (Unofficial Pt. 3)

As usual, during my research for Part 1 and Part 2 of my Collective Noun post, I found a few things that I couldn’t resist sharing. So, for Part 3, enjoy a few humorous cartoons, posters, and images about collective nouns!

Index of Supernatural Collective Nouns by David Malki (available as a poster!)


A few avian terms of venery by Micheal Kline


A cartoon by Pain Train


A Pickles cartoon


These adorable illustrations from Babbel

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54fa3c35-a5ba-4959-bd61-056a8de631bd   9f074604-79f2-4f8a-a0b7-597de6e30281  9c0c4f8c-02f5-4bb5-803d-00796db2ff0a   3eb6f03a-cc60-4c64-ad0d-889364b8a1b9   6e5f8efc-6901-4fe6-a248-f9eba262a243   4e75b6d7-896e-4672-82c8-e2f3fd207da8

And these illustrations from Giulia Barbera

12_snakes 11_whales 10_gorillas 09_owls 08_wolves 07_frogs 06_rhinos 05_elk 04_fish 03_crows 02_ferrets 01_lions