Tag Archives: etymology

1.) I had to enter that sales-pitch drawing; you know, the one that says I’m about to win $15,000,000?

2.) My eyes hurt. I’ve been staring at Facebook for two hours straight. But that’s important. It’s today’s link to the outside world, right? When it works.

3.) I was filling out marketing postcards for my next book, which will come out…soon…I hope.

4.) I checked into Dictionary.com and got distracted. I love etymology! It’s like word DNA.

5.) I had to file reports for my writers’ organization and that took too much time.

6.) Then I needed a break to read the comics. Everybody needs to laugh, right? Don’t bug me.

7.) I get aggravated and can’t write when I’m under pressure.

8.) I need to follow the news so I can scribble a bunch of snarky slogans.

9.) I had to clean out my desk, and that filled up the trash can, so…

10.) I had to empty the trash. I can’t concentrate with a full trash can staring me in the face.

11.) The mail came. A catalog had 20% off a blouse I really want. And shoes. Maybe I’d better look a little closer. I may have missed something.

12.) I don’t write well in the morning. Just slogans. After I watch the news. I need coffee. And half a bagel.

13.) It’s too noisy outside. What are my neighbors doing now?

14.) It’s too quiet inside. I wonder what the dog’s doing now?

15.) I can’t forget to use my Dunkin’ Donuts coupon. It expires today.

16.) I need to drop stuff off at Goodwill. And maybe I’ll check out Publix for BOGOs.

17.) I must check the newspaper before I recycle it. Maybe there’s another BOGO I missed.

18.) Found a list of upcoming events at Sunrise Theater. Oh, I need to sign up for some of these! Where’s the phone? Where are my credit cards? In my purse. Where’s my purse?

19.) Emptied the coffee pot. Ran the clean cycle.

20.)  Reheated last cup of coffee. Decided “What the heck,” and had the last half-bagel.

21.) I can’t write while eating and drinking.

22.) I can’t stand having a dirty cup and plate on my desk.

23.) Had to empty clean dishes from the washer so I could put the dirty ones in.

24.) Can’t stand clutter. Had to put the clean tableware where it belonged.

25.) Now I’ve had too much caffeine. I can’t sit still at the computer.

And, dear Muse, if that’s not enough reasons, TRUST ME…. Oh, now there’s a good one for a snarky slogan. BELIEVE ME… that’s another. Boy, I’m on a roll now. Hey, Six-, ten-, twelve-word slogans–that counts as writing, no? How about that? I was writing all the time!



As a writer, words are my breakfast, lunch, dinner; my air and water, my work, play, and joy. Words are my babies, my beloved. They are NOT ‘my significant other.’ They are a dear and valued part of my life.

I often wonder what, not who, coined the term ‘significant other.’ I picture some geek at a secret half-human, half-machine robot computer (you know, the secret one out in Area 51) saying to it, “You know, Half-bot, I’m living with this girl, just not sure I want to get married, but she’s a nice girl, and we’re learning to tolerate each other, and, well, maybe…”

“What is your point?”

“Uh, yeah. Well, she’s more than a friend, more than a roommate, more than just the girl I live with but…”

“What is your point?”

“Memo to self: Work on Half-bot’s sensitivity to human interaction.”

“Noted. What is your point?”

“I don’t know what to call her.”

“Significant Other.”

That’s my guess how the ghastly term came about.

I have a favorite pair of shoes that are winners. I also have ‘place’ and ‘show’ shoes. These other two pair are my ‘significant others.’ Good enough for their specific purposes, but not good enough for a lifetime relationship. Good enough for a walkabout, not good enough to put under my bed. My clothes are categorized much the same way. So are my feelings for food, animals, music, movies, sports… You get the picture?

Significant Others are nice to have around, but less important to me. Is that what a relationship partner should be called? What ever happened to sweetie, my love, boyfriend, honey, girlfriend, partner, fiancé, roommate? Is Significant Other better than roommate? Doesn’t sound it to me. Sounds like a co-bill-payer with benefits. Sleazy.

And if you split, what do you call your Ex? Insignificant Other? Now there’s a good one! That I like.

I heard a guy say, “I live with Jane,” in response to an introduction. Well, that’s ambiguous too. Ruff the dog, Finny the Fish, Mac the Macaw, and Jane’s grandmother live with her, too! Where does the guy rate, I wonder. Sounds like a sleazy co-bill-payer-with-benefits Significant Other, if you ask me.


I’ve been hunting the Internet Jungle for websites for writers, and some of these have been passed on to me from other writers. Hope these help!

1) dailywriting tips.com:
Each day this free newsletter gives tips on grammar, punctuation, lists of idioms, synonyms, and more.

2) wordsmsith.org:
Sign up for free A.Word.A.Day message that gives you the meaning, etymology, usage of a word. Also has audio to hear the word pronounced.

3) writing-world.com:
Billed as “A World of Writing information – For Writers Around the World,” It truly is a fantastic site with a super archive.

4) writersdigest.com:
Every writer’s Bible online! Articles, blogs, competitions, education, and more. Okay, by now you’re saying “Do I really need more?” Well, yes! Because I went to the trouble to find them for you!

5) grammarbook.com:
The free site begun by author Jane Strauss, now deceased, gives simple grammar explanations followed by a short quiz to anchor the concept in memory.

6) chompchomp.com:
While on the subject of grammar, here you can get a few bytes of the subject in advice and interactive format.

7) poetryfoundation.org:
I love this place. Sign up for their free poem-a-day. Sometimes I save opening this email until I need a break in my writing. Most works I love, others–eh–not so much. Like when it’s shaped and reads like a paragraph pulled from a page of a book. (Okay, poetry elitists, no letters, please. Some people like baseball, some like football. There’s room for all of us in the world)

8) novel-writing-help.com:
Helpful site by Harvey Chapman, a Brit. It covers getting started, planning and writing a novel, and lists writing resources. He seemed to speak to me: “…remember that most people out there wouldn’t have the guts or the stamina to attempt what you are attempting. …and you should feel immensely proud about whatever you have achieved today.” Thanks, Harvey! We all need to hear that.

9) freelancewriting.com:
If freelancing is your aim, this site has everything: hundreds of video tutorials, articles, and more. Give it a look.

10) scbwi.org:
If you are, or think you’d like to write for children, check into the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.

When Abe Lincoln and I were in eighth grade (at least it seems that long ago) we asked our guidance counselor for career advice. Abe, a solemn, moody kid, gangly and awkward, shy and insecure, said he wanted to do what was right, to win friends and influence people somehow.

“You’ll never make it in the public arena,” Counselor told Abe. “Forget public speaking. You’ll never say anything anybody wants to hear. And politics? They’ll eat you alive, boy. Besides, there’s not a lie, cheat, or steal in ya’. Not a crooked bone in your body. Literally and figuratively. Never seen a boy so straight. I figure best you settle for being a storekeeper or some such. So long, son. Next?”

He meant me.  “Well, Counselor, I think I’d like to be a teacher.”

“What makes you think you’d be good at it?”

“My dolls think I’m a good teacher.”

“Hmm. Why do they think that?”

“I make sure they have recess between classes.”

“Good enough. Teacher it is. Any questions?”

“I’ve heard about this newfangled thing called a typewriter. Won’t a teacher need to know how to type?”

“Good heavens, girl, you’re going to college. College folk will have secretaries to do menial work. You don’t need typing. What you need is Latin. All educated people need Latin.”

“Um-m-m, well, if you say so…”

“Latin it is. Next?”

So it was that I was off to minimum of two years of Latin. People in my neighborhood couldn’t speak English very well, so finding someone to converse with in Latin was out of the question. I eked by, wondering what the heck I got out of it other than two years of torture. As time went by, I discovered I could deduce the meanings of words from their Latin roots. A boon to writers and contestants on Jeopardy, but it helped not a whit when shoveling through mounds of teaching paperwork.

In my spare time, (I hear teachers laughing) I did well at the Hunt & Peck Typing Academy and became a fairly effective typist – minus the time required to reread and retype for fat-finger syndrome errors. My newfound semi-skill gave semi-speed to my creative writing urges, and so, as poet and writer, I blossomed.

Dallying along the writing path, I developed a penchant for the ellipsis. Ellipsis… and its plural, ellipses…come to us via Latin from the Greek elleipsis, taken from their word elleipein meaning “leave out.” My Latin struggles were not in vain!

As well as what it can reach first, the middle finger of my right hand tends to grab the period and comma as its inviolable territory. Hence, it has earned the title Ellipsis Master (the Black Belt of typing), and, due to my writing style…deserves veneration in its old age. Right now, Ellipsis Master is wearing a finger cot tipped with cotton to cushion the blows. This forces serious reconsideration of gesturing to an obnoxious driver when one’s digit is wearing what appears to be a condom.

Still, I wish I’d learned to type when my mind and fingers were flexible enough to accept structured typing discipline. Free-range fingers, like chickens, tend to develop a pecking order. Usually it’s the closest finger gets the letter. Watching them scramble is as entertaining as the result. Unless I’m pressed for time, at which time, I curse my old counselor.

When people meet in person, by video conference, or by phone to discuss an issue and work toward a solution, this is dialogue. The same is true of a musical composition in which two or more parts seem like a conversation between instruments. However, as with the U.S. Congress, it seems the phrase dialogue of the deaf would be more apropos as it refers to a discussion in which each party is unresponsive to what the other says.

Setting aside my astute political observations, if you’re a writer or a curious reader (and why else would you be here?) you’ve seen this word for ‘character-speak’ both ways; dialogue and dialog. The dictionaries I’ve used have shown dialogue first, which means the preferred spelling, and dialog, the second choice. I thought the primary usage sounded French, because of the custom of les Francais of eschewing half the sounds of letters used to spell their words.

I was one-fourth correct in deciphering the word’s origins. Dialogue came to us in Middle English by way of Old French through Latin (dialogus) and before that, the Greek (dialogos).  Okay, you say, who cares about this stuff? I do. Etymology fascinates me as much as dialogue. During recovery from surgery, I once sat reading one of a two-volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary! Really. Considering that some versions of the OED are twenty volumes long, it  was slow going. I needed my glasses and the magnifying glass provided with the set. Needless to say, I recovered long before getting more than an inch through volume one!

My theory on dialog? It comes as a fast draw, shot straight form the American hip. Cut to the chase. Git ‘er done! Yankee conversation pattern: Yup. Nope. Why spend time on dialogue when dialog is all it takes? Mais oui! Yup. See what I mean? Consider FDR and his WPA, SSA, FDIC, FHA, etcetera (I mean etc.). Were Americans the first to come up with acronyms and abbreviations?

IMHO, you should delve into this and see what you come up with. While you’re at it, try your hand at acronyms, backronyms, and macronyms. Just try them out before you publish them. If one comes out like the German TV program Alles nur aus Liebe (All for Love) ANAL, you might want to rethink a bit.

Now that we have the blog title out of the way, we go on to WOWS y’next time! (Work On Writing Skills)