TOBOGGAN: a light wooden frame on runners used for sliding over snow and ice

When is the last time you researched a word and found that it had come to the English language from the Micmac language?  The Micmacs, a tribe of the Algonquin nation, have actually given us a number of words which pertain particularly to winter, winter sports, winter clothing.  Toboggan is one of them. Maybe you […]

WORST CASE SCENARIO: the most extreme example from among the list of possible outcomes

Why is it that when we are presented with a list of options for potential activity, we tend to gravitate to the worst case scenario? (I’ve used the pronoun “we” in the last sentence; perhaps I should restrict it to “I.”  Maybe others are better at this than I am.) For instance.   I had total […]

EVOLVING: in the process of taking shape; forming; not yet complete

When asked some time ago about his attitude about same gender marriage, President Obama shared his hesitancy for full support, but indicated that his thoughts on the subject were evolving. Some people took that response as a negative, saying that the President was wishy-washy and wasn’t capable of expressing a clear answer.   Others, like myself, […]

MEGALOMANIA: a symptom of mental illness marked by delusions of greatness, wealth, etc

Following the events in Libya these days it is easy to become confused about the logical process if I forget that the leader of the country, Col. Al Qaddafi, is a megalomaniac.  That may sound like a negative, judgmental  thing to say about someone, especially a head of state.  But it is less a personal […]

HOODWINK: to deceive or trick

I am surprised to discover that the preferred definition for the word hoodwinked is such a generic, non-specific term, with no reference to a tool or an instrument.  It is so clear to me that the work is directly related to a hood/blind-fold that is intended to wink/hide from view.   The word hoodwink is classified […]

ELOCUTION: the study and practice of oral delivery, including the control of both voice and gesture. (

Surprisingly, The King’s Speech is the front-runner for Oscar nominations this year.  It is not an action film; there is no graphic sexual theme to it; the music is not unique or overwhelming; the cast is low-key and highly verbal.  None of these have added up to the criteria for Oscar nominations over the past […]