It all started with the word “pertinacious.” Mommy and I were pulling ivy in the front yard the other day when somehow the subject of words came up. I mentioned that I had always wanted to use the word “pertinacious” in a sentence, and Mommy asked somewhat incredulously, “Is that really a word?” I got to thinking about that, and I realized that I actually didn’t know. We then started thinking about all the funny words and phrases our family had come up with over the years.
For example, there’s “spiky bombs,” the seed balls from a Sweetgum tree with which my brother and I used to pelt each other while we waited for my sister’s piano lesson to be over. They have barbed prickles all over them, making them extremely difficult to get out of tangled hair, but they do make excellent ammunition if you happen to be playing war with your big brother. : )
From my sister, we have “flufflebugs,” which was what she called dandelion seed heads, and I think it was my brother who first coined the name “exploding grass” for a prolific weed in our backyard that would “explode” at the slightest provocation, spreading a multitude of seeds everywhere, to ensure that we would always have weeds to pull up the next year.
My nephew and nieces have come up with many good words and phrases over the years as well. When my nephew was just learning how to talk, he couldn’t quite manage to say “Aunt Gwennie”, so I was dubbed “Aunt Gooey”. (Although thankfully not for long!) He also called horses “cowies”, and the first time he saw a real deer he exclaimed “Reindeer horses!” : ) My older niece has a charming way of reversing the words in certain phrases, such as string cheese. One day, we were trying to get her to say it right, and she responded by saying, “You can say it cheese-string, or cheese-string…either way!” : ) My personal favorite from them is my younger niece’s variation on “Uncle Tris”. I tried to teach her to say it last time we were visiting, but she couldn’t quite manage, and ended up with “Uncle Sis”. : )
So, when we had finished outside I pulled out my dictionary and looked up the word pertinacious. It really is a word after all! It means obstinate, holding firmly, or stubborn. So there!