the hyphens that define my life

Untoward Sciurine and Circadian Rhythms November 12, 2013

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 8:08 pm
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Of all the books I read and have read, it is through social media that I have expanded my vocabulary this week with new words.  This accomplishment must be highlighted because my vocabulary has been in the toilet lately.  So crappy in fact, I said “for sure” as in classic 80’s speak not once, not twice but three times today while on a business call with one of our company vice presidents.  Granted, he’s the surfer VP whose age and jargon align with my own, but still, let’s expand our vocabulary and lay off the vernacular.

Sticking with the theme of the season, did you know squirrels are sciurids?  sci·u·rid (s y-r d) adj. Of, belonging to, or resembling the Sciuridae, a family of rodents that includes the squirrels and related mammals. n. A sciurid rodent.  Sciurids gets corrected by spellcheck on WordPress as “scariness” which I find totally appropriate.  Totally.

Let’s use the new word in a sentence.  To answer the question, “What happened to your arm?”  I would have responded, “I was attacked by squirrels.”  Now, with my new word, What happened to your arm?” is answered, “Sciurids attacked me.”  Sciurids sound fierce.  I was lucky to escape with just a broken arm.  Beware.

One of my blog readers informed me that sciurids are our friends.  Yes, of course they are.  Of course.

How have I never ever heard the word “untoward?”  Most likely because it is one of those words that were lost while crossing the pond from British English to American English along with the extra “u” that Brits and all the colonies add to words, like colour.  Why do they have it?  Why did we get rid of it?  A mystery.  If you know the reason, please don’t tell me.  I like my pond theory.

un·to·ward [ un táwrd ]

  1. inappropriate: not appropriate or fitting
  2. unexpected: unusual or unexpected
  3. causing misfortune: causing misfortune or disadvantage

For nineteen years I’ve been telling my kids to stop this inappropriate nonsense when I could have been saying stop this untoward nonsense.  My kids are so going to get it now, just wait until I start dropping untoward on them.  They will seriously think I’ve lost it.  Seriously.

Untoward appeared in an article my Kiwi friend posted on Facebook about some farmer who’s cattle is being butchered by crazy, lazy hunters in New Zealand.  The farmer didn’t see anything untoward.  I had to stop and look up the word.  What didn’t he see? Nothing inappropriate, unusual or unexpected. Huh.  I was drawn to the article because I wanted to see if “spotlighting” meant the same thing in New Zealand as it does in the States.  Little did I know I would stumble upon a whole new word.  For the record, yes, nocturnal animal spotlighting is universal. My crazy Kiwi friends always guide me well and bring me joy.

This afternoon I was conversing with a neighbor that has lived in our Spokane neighborhood for over 30 years.  In every conversation I have had with her, she mentions Circadian Rhythms.  I get the idea of her reference each time but only today did I look it up to find out what she’s really talking about.  I know what these rhythms are, I just didn’t realize they had a name.  Here’s a great photo to describe Circadian Rhythms:

circadian rythms

Between you and me, I think my neighbor just likes saying Circadian Rhythms, it really doesn’t apply to our topics of conversation, perhaps figuratively just not literally.  We mainly discuss leaves, mulch, raspberry bushes, the neighborhood then and now, fly fishing (she talks, I listen) and local politics (she’s feisty).  I have a lot to learn from her.

Did you know these words?  I hope I have enlightened you as I have been enlightened.  Word up homies!


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