Archive for the ‘Morning names’ Category

Morning wood word

September 18, 2023

(Brief but penis-dense, so not to everyone’s  taste; there are, alas, no images)

My morning name today — a natural for someone as phallically oriented as I am — was pillicock, according to the OED (revised 2006), an archaic BrE word for the penis. A penis word that actually vanished, as a reference to the male organ or any semantic development from that. This despite the fact that it truly contained cock ‘penis’ (the pilli part is etymologically obscure).

(Irrelevantly, my mind went on a dactylic jaunt — pillicock, petticoat, billygoat, jerry-built, marzipan — and from there to a delicious double dactyl, marzipan pillicock. A majestic almond-candy phallus; no doubt someone actually makes these. Or perhaps a sweet-tongued prick, that lying seducer Don Juan in his guise as Captain Marzipan Pillicock.)

I would have expected pillicock to have gone the way of pillock (entirely of obscure etymology), which the OED (revised 2006) tells us started out as

Originally Scottish. The penis. Now English regional (northern) and rare. [1st cite 1568]

But mostly went the way of prick and dick and putz and others in various languages, which went bad, went downhill semantically: pillock has ended up as

Chiefly British colloquial (mildly derogatory). A stupid person; a fool, an idiot. [1st cite 1967]

(And yes, morning wood word is an odd portmanteau of morning wood and morning word. Leading, I suppose, to thoughts of morning wood word and burn stein, morning burn being a novel alternative to razor burn. Ok, I’ll stop.)

Dream songs

May 17, 2023

… in two movements — starting with a dream from April 21st as I described it to Ellen Kaisse (where her role as a talented amateur choral singer and friend of musicians was especially relevant). And then, having separately posted, on April 19th, about the newly appointed fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, focused on Elizabeth Traugott and Hazel Simmons-McDonald (distinguished as academic administrators as well as scholars), I turned to EK in her long-time role as an academic administrator at the University of Washington (as chair of Linguistics and then as a dean) and was moved to muse about women in linguistics who have demonstrated real talent as academic administrators.


Notions, novelties, curios

March 23, 2023

Today’s morning names: notions in the sense ‘cheap, useful articles (especially for the household)’ (and then later specializations to sewing materials); which suggested novelties in the sense ‘small, inexpensive, ornamental items’; and curios ‘rare, unusual, or intriguing objects’.  All three concrete plural nouns arise from abstract nouns: notion ‘impulse or disposition to act’; novelty ‘newness, originality’; and curiosity ‘desire to know or learn things’.

I’ll consider the three concrete plurals in succession. I’m hoping that there’s some literature on the historical development of notions, but, given my very limited search abilities I haven’t been able to discover any of it.


Breasts on buckwheat groats

December 19, 2022

Or something like that. In yesterday’s (12/18) morning name, which beats anything I’ve come up with before all hollow: the truly bizarre name I’ll spell Tits Varnishke, where the LN is pronounced /várnɪški/. Even more bizarrely, in whatever fever-dream fantasy gave rise to the name, it referred to a gangster.

Background. I’m in day 3 of what I think of as sick-day leave, when my usual responsibilities are lifted (though I try to do at least one small useful thing each day) and, because the illness is respiratory, I am even further isolated than before (and live behind a mask when people are obliged to be near me).

This is on top of all the other afflictions affecting me; at first it was just a very bad head cold, but then it took in my chest as well, so it hurts to breathe. I sleep sitting up in my recliner chair and I feel really crappy, but it’s just a cold. (My 02 stays at 97% or better, despite all the junk I cough up, and I have only occasional periods of a little bit of fever. I’m an old acquaintance of bronchitis and pneumonia, which I would recognize, but all I have now is a wretched cold. It will pass. There’s no reason to think it’s COVID, but I’ll check tomorrow.)

Mostly the rule is: if you have a respiratory virus, STAY HOME; don’t go to work or wherever and expose other people to your virus. Especially now, when respiratory illnesses are at very high levels.


Agador, and his flagrant Guatemalan-ness

August 14, 2022

Agador, today’s morning name, which I quickly expanded to Agador Spartacus. Calling up wonderful images of Hank Azaria’s character in the comedy film The Birdcage:

In the movie, Agador is male couple Armand and Albert’s flamboyantly gay Guatemalan housekeeper / maid, who poses as a Greek butler named Spartacus for the purposes of a family charade on behalf of Armand’s son Val; you can watch a short clip of  a bewigged Agador dancing while feather-dusting here



July 19, 2022

My morning name of 6/5, which came to me, not in my head on awakening (the way morning names usually do), but on Facebook upon my firing up my computer, from John Wells, who was exclaiming with surprised delight: “I’m now a panjandrum“.

JW had just come across a 1/29/19 piece on Tony Thorne’s language and innovation site, “Mockney, Estuary — and the Queen’s English”, in which Thorne referred to “the Linguistics and Phonetics department at UCL [University College London] under the panjandrum of phonology Professor John Wells”.

(#1) Not JW, but the Great Panjandrum of Randolph Caldecott’s 1885 picture book, on its cover (on the book, see below)



June 21, 2022

Today’s morning name came to me not as I emerged from sleep, but as the first thing I saw on my computer: today’s Calvin and Hobbes blast from the past (from 6/23/92, summer time 30 years ago) with Hobbes in the grip of onomatomanic fascination with the word smock (warning: it’s catching):

(#1) Smick, smock, sweaty old jock … Well how was I to know there was a party going on? (1958 apologies to Bobby Darin, Murray the K, and Murray’s mother Jean Kaufman; their version is much cleaner)

Zippy the Pinhead is celebrated for his onomatomania, but anyone can play, even stuffed tigers.

The modern smock is a plain functional garment, a kind of protective overshirt (functionally akin to aprons, coveralls, and the like), associated with artists, who work with messy substances. But its history is more complex.


Prone, splayed, and humped up

June 13, 2022

(Warning: this posting starts out being about food, but quickly shifts into man-on-man sex, in very plain anatomical and interactional language, so it’s not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

The morning name from 6/7: spatchcock. From NOAD on spatchcock:

noun: a chicken or game bird split open and grilled. verb [with object] [a] split open (a poultry or game bird) to prepare it for grilling: these small spring chickens can be bought already spatchcocked. [b] informal, mainly British add (a phrase, sentence, clause, etc.) in a context where it is inappropriate: a new clause has been spatchcocked into the Bill. ORIGIN late 18th century (originally an Irish usage). [but in any case, the cock in question refers to poultry and not to penises]

Illustrated on the Fifteen Spatulas site, in “Spatchcock Chicken” by Joanne Ozug on 12/7/18:

(#1) [from the site:] Spatchcock Chicken roasts in half the time of a whole trussed chicken, and also cooks more evenly. … Once you spatchcock, you don’t go back to roasting whole chickens.

I had two visceral responses to the photo: one, as an umami-loving carnivore, my mouth watered in pleasurable anticipation of consuming that spatchcocked chicken; and two, as a hookup-loving pedicant, my sexual parts all tingled in pleasurable recollection of past encounters in which I was that spatchcocked chicken. On my belly, legs apart, buttocks in the air. Or, more briskly: prone, splayed, humped up. (You have to make some allowances for the anatomical differences between your typical roasted chicken and me in heat, so that drumsticks ≈ buttocks.)


Ark of Triumph

May 28, 2022

Today’s morning name (from who knows where): the word-playful Ark [vs. the usual Arch] of Triumph. In French, somewhat confusingly Arche [vs. the usual Arc] de Triomphe.

The Ark (that is, Noah’s Ark), Arche de Noé + the Arch of Triumph (that is, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris).

Wherever it came from, Ark of Triumph led me to the wonderfully playful artist Rodney Alan Greenblat, some of whose work it turns out I was familiar with (without knowing he was the artist), but whose 1984 work Ark of Triumph I’m pretty sure I’d never even heard about before, much less seen.



May 16, 2022

Today’s morning name, which led me back to an onomatomanic Zippy strip from 7/3/21 (yes, I work extremely slowly):

(#1) Zippyesque repetitive phrase disorder, aka onomatomania, fixated on exploding magic bingo bombs

This being a Zippy strip, exploding magic bingo bombs are a real thing; Bill Griffith doesn’t just make up stuff like this.