PHONEUR: A person, especially a pedestrian, who interacts with or engages the world mostly through a mobile phone


It’s against the law to do it in the car.   But walking along the street with a cell phone plastered to your ear is still legal.    Now there’s a word to describe such a person.  That pedestrian is a phoneur.  It’s a word that has been around since 2001, according to Word Spy, one of […]

BOONDOGGLE: a lanyard, a piece of foolish legislation, an intentional confusion


It was not my favorite camp activity.  Never having been very good at manual arts, the idea of weaving long, unruly pieces of plastic string into a colorful lanyard to hold my keys (of which I had none) seemed like a complete waste of time.   But my friends were ecstatic.   It was boondoggle time! I […]

SEQUESTER: to remove or separate


     I’ve been waiting for several weeks to tackle this word, hoping that it wouldn’t be necessary.   But it looks as if the inactivity of  Congress on the matter of finance is going to make sequestration a reality, so let’s take a look at the word.  Check out this historical piece from Online Etymology Dictionary. […]

GUN CONTROL: legislation which limits the access to and use of armaments in civilian life

I don’t know anyone who believes that the government should take away hunting rifles, target pistols, or other similar non-offensive guns from legitimate, licensed owners.   There is a long tradition of hunting and recreational shooting, including trap shooting, which is recognized in this country and even included in Olympic events.  So the paranoia about stripping […]

SUSTAINABILITY: the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance*

The concept of sustainability revolves around the idea that elements of our environment and our attempt to live in a healthy way in this environment require an understanding of depletion and restoration.   If those elements, including food, are to be available to this and future generations care must be taken to avoid depleting the supply […]

HAM-HANDED: clumsy

What a strange term.   Ham-handed. But it is also a term that makes sense when you take the time to think it through.   If someone  is ham-handed they are unable to do things which require dexterity.   Instead of having delicate fingers and thumbs to accomplish detailed functions, it is as if their hands were hams […]