BALDERDASH: confused, muddled conversation

There are words like sarsparilla and hogwash that belong to a generation before my time.   They are words that are mouthed by aging cowboys, hermit-like gold miners, and eccentric grandfathers in movies that were in black and white and had little white spots that shot up and down the side of the frame of the […]

GOBBLEDYGOOK: obscure language which is difficult to de-cypher

When I first began thinking about using the word gobbledygook in a posting I thought I was dealing with a word that was so “made up” that it wouldn’t even appear in a dictionary.  I was surprised to find it every place I looked, including the classic Garner’s Modern American Usage.   I have to admit, […]

ALGORITHM: a set of rules for finding a solution in a specific number of steps

No, you don’t have to be a well-schooled mathematician in order to understand today’s posting.   While algorithm is a word appropriately identified with advanced mathematics to describe a process for solving problems, it is not restricted to that realm.  If it were, I would have hit the delete button long before this.  Math and I […]

MIDNIGHT: technically, twelve o’clock a.m.

Midnight is one of those words that was created to describe something literally.  Its literal meaning is “middle of the night.”  If that seems strange to you at all, it may be because 12:oo a.m. is hardly the middle of a contemporary night. I suppose that in the century in which the word originated it […]

WHATEVER: nation’s most annoying word

It doesn’t take a lot for a teenager to be characterized as ”annoying.”  It comes with the territory, as a teen lurches through the predictable stage of growing independence.  Parents know nothing. Rules are unfair.  “Everybody” is doing what they want to do.  And then, there’s the whole thing about language.  A new vocabulary emerges […]

ABSTRUSE: hard to understand

  An explanation that just doesn’t make things clear is said to be abstruse.  You’ve been there.  You ask someone a question about what something means, or how something works.  The answer you get leaves you in an even-more-confused state. It is very disconcerting to the person giving the explanation, because the answer is perfectly […]