Having Words With Myself

Every now and then the playback needle in my brain skips a groove and ends up on a different track altogether.  (And if you don’t understand that reference, you’re probably too young to be reading my blog.)

When the needle skips, it’s as though I’m a foreigner looking at our language for the first time.  Words I’ve used for decades suddenly look weird and unfamiliar, and I feel compelled to discover their origin.  And if I stare at a word too long, no matter how familiar it is I’ll begin to question whether I’ve spelled it correctly – it looks wrong no matter how I rearrange the letters.

That happened to me earlier this week, and I’m hoping it’s only because the last couple of weeks have been immensely stressful:  It’s the usual craziness of releasing a book plus a spate of family illnesses and deaths, all in addition to the never-ending gong show that is our house construction.

At least, I’m hoping it’s only the stress that’s making my brain twist.  But even if my word-weirdness is the harbinger of some dire malady, at least I’m getting a chuckle out of the symptoms.

For instance:

The phrase “He’s holding his own” is meant to indicate that someone is holding up under pressure and not requiring the help of others.  But whenever I hear that expression my mind immediately demands, “Holding his own what?”  Which is quickly followed by, “I hope he washes his hands afterward.”

In the same vein, ‘He knows how to handle himself’ is also supposed to be an admiring comment, but you can probably guess where my brain goes with that.  (I wrote ‘he knows how to handle himself’ in Kiss And Say Good Spy; and I admit I was grinning when I did it.)  Whenever I hear or read that phrase I wonder whether it’s being used as a compliment or a filthy innuendo.

…And don’t even get me started about the word ‘innuendo’.  To me it sounds like The Godfather describing a kinky sex act:  “In-u-end-o!”

‘Feckless’ makes me giggle, too.  The online dictionary tells me it’s derived from the Scottish word ‘feck’, which means ‘effect’; therefore ‘feckless’ means ‘useless, incompetent, ineffective’.  I always think of ‘feck’ as an Irish expletive, so in my mind ‘feckless’ should mean ‘not giving a feck’.  E.g. “I’ve been doing this stupid job for so long I’m feckless about it.”  Or “If he fell off the face of the earth, I’d be feckless”.

‘Gormless’ is an intrinsically funny word.  Unlike the others, it doesn’t remind me of any other word (except maybe ‘worm’) but even if I’d never heard it before, I think I’d still identify it as an insult.  Like ‘flaccid’, ‘gormless’ is a word whose sound suits its meaning perfectly.

And speaking of the way words sound, I have to smother a smile when anybody says ‘Doing his/her duty’, too.  Unless the speaker enunciates very clearly, I hear ‘doing his/her doody’… which is another thing entirely.  (Please pass the toilet paper.)

What word or phrase never fails to make you snicker?

42 thoughts on “Having Words With Myself

  1. I’m about half way finished with my current book — hmmm — do I stop it now & read my new one or finish my current one & put myself in more anticipation for my newest one from you. Decisions, decisions.


    • LOL! Tough choice! I can never put down a book in the middle – I always have to finish it before I start the next. But then again, it only takes me a few hours to read a whole book, so I guess I don’t have as much at stake. 😉


      • Well, it takes me a little longer to finish one. I multi-task — between watching tv and reading during the commercials. Have you counted recently how many commercials they are cramming in during programs? I think I counted 13 or 14 during some of them. If I happen to record a program then I skip thru them (and can’t get any reading done).


        • Yikes. I almost never watch TV, and when there’s a show Hubby thinks I’d like, he records it on the PVR and then plays it back. He’s so good at fast-forwarding, I’ve never seen a complete commercial. That makes for endless amusement for our friends when we’re out at a sports bar that has multiple TVs and I’m staring mesmerized at the commercials because I’ve never seen them before! 😉


  2. LOL! Once played a game with a group of co-workers. Named my character STU GOTS (bad slang for cock) which ensued coming up with a list of alternate words for cock that would have rivaled George Carlins list of dirty words!!


    • The conversation with your co-workers must have been absolutely hysterical! It’s too bad your game didn’t get recorded – you could have given George Carlin a run for his money. 😉


  3. I knew a guy online once that had a band called “Inurendo”. I thought that was about the best name for a band I ever heard.


  4. I had the same experience with the word “sure”. No matter what combination I came up with it didn’t look right. Found out there is a word for this — wordnesia. Can’t decide whether this made me feel better or worse.

    Can you imagine the difficulty foreigners have with the English language with all of our spellings that don’t sound like they are spelled or the words that start out with “sh….” for example, and learning to use the correct one.


    • Wordnesia. That makes perfect sense! And I’ve always sympathized with anyone trying to learn English – what a mess! My husband grew up speaking English; doesn’t know any other language; and still gets tripped up by spelling. He stubbornly keeps trying to change his little corner of the universe by spelling English words “the way they should be spelled”. Needless to say, he’s usually locked in a life-or-death struggle with the spell-checker on his computer. 😉


  5. Some words make me snicker, like teabag and beaver, which is a shame because they’re perfectly normal words that have been taken to the dark side. I also have the problem where a word suddenly won’t look right to me, whether in spelling or meaning. Words we use every day suddenly seem foreign or odd. Strange how our brains work!


  6. feckless always makes me think there is a drunken Irishman nearby, “eh, boy-o, feck you then” or something. But my giggle word is thanks to a book by Samuel Shem called “House of God”. It’s a horribly irreverent book, fictionalized account of his first year as a medical resident in a hospital, and one of my favorites. The word is Gomer, which stands for Get Out of My ER, and if you’re in healthcare you know who the Gomers are. That’s all I’m gonna say about it.


    • Oh, that’s brilliant! Now the next time I have occasion to lurk in an ER, I’ll have my ears flapping in hopes of catching one of the staff referring to a Gomer (and hope it’s not me). 😉


  7. I’d have to go with feckless. Gad, that word is just hysterical to me. The PG-13 definition I always hear in my head is “can’t get a date.” I mean, why not?

    Deaths in the family, you say? Yeah, me, too. My brother-in-law passed recently. My sister’s husband and my best friend for nearly fifty years. The toughest, strongest, and most tender-hearted guy on the planet. And he took marvelous care of my sister for all that time. He was as good a man as my dad was. Gad, we miss him. You have my most sincere condolences.

    The progreth chart ith thhowing good nooth, thithta. Congratulathions!


    • Thankth! Yeth, jutht a few more tweakth and it’ll be there! And ‘can’t get a date’?!? Perfect! (And hilarious!) 😀

      I’m so sorry to hear you’ve lost your brother-in-law – he must have left a giant void in your lives. I’d offer comfort if I thought it would help, but there are no words to make a loss like that easier. My condolences to you and your sister.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I know what you mean about words suddenly looking strange or wrong. It happens with the sounds of words, too. “Cake” always sounds funny to me by the second or third time it’s been said 🙂 I think you’re right about the stress causing it. And fatigue, which usually accompanies stress. Hurry up, vacation – Diane’s losing it!!


    • I’m barely clinging to sanity… or at least what passes for sanity for me! And you’re right about the sounds of words, but it’s never happened to me with ‘cake’. Probably because the word ‘cake’ rarely gets repeated more than once around me – by the time anybody thinks about saying it again, I’ve already eaten it. 😉


  9. Ok I hope I haven’t sent this twice. I’m alternately cringing and giggling hysterically as I’m typing this but I can’t see or hear the word “bone” without my brain adding an “r” at the end. And context doesn’t matter. Try ordering a “bone-in ribeye” at a restaurant (because my brain sees the word twice!). Don’t know when or why this started but It’s embarrrasing, not to mention disturbing, to have the humor of an adolescent boy in my middle-ages female body. Anyway, thank you for making me feel not alone in my word weirdness, hahaha!


    • Bahahaha!!! OMG, now I’m going to read ‘boner-in’ every… single… time… I see it for the rest of my life. Thank you for that – any word that makes me not-so-secretly snicker makes my days just a little bit brighter! (And I’m glad I’m not the only middle-aged female with an adolescent boy living between my ears.)


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.