Tag Archives: vocabulary

Christmas Cookies: Bite-Sized Holiday Lessons

Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Christmas Cookies: BiteSized Holiday Lessons reminds me of a classic book on etiquette or behavior for children. It’s a clever book to help children understand concepts like reciprocal, prosperity, charitable, tradition and more all through the making and eating of Christmas cookies. The tone would go over with pre-schoolers who want to know how to be good.

Jan Dyer’s illustrations evoke a nostalgic Christmas.

Warning: You’ll want some cookies after you read this.

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Posted by on December 12, 2020 in Children's Lit


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Word of the Week

In honor of Black Friday:

Target Effect – the name of the behavior of going into a store intending to buy one item but leaving with a full cart.

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Posted by on November 24, 2018 in fiction, words


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Word of the Week

niminy-piminy, adj.
[‘Mincing, affected; without force, drive, or spirit.’]
Pronunciation: Brit. /ˌnɪmᵻnɪˈpɪmᵻni/, U.S. /ˈnɪmᵻniˈpɪmᵻni/
Forms: 17–18 nimini-pimini, 18 nimeny-pimeny, 18– niminy-piminy.
Etymology:Imitative of affected speech (see quot. 17861 at main sense), perhaps after namby-pamby adj. Compare miminy-piminy adj. and perhaps also mimp n. and adj.
Mincing, affected; without force, drive, or spirit.
Quots. 17861 may show use as an interjection

  • 1786 J. Burgoyne Heiress iii ii. 55 Lady Emily… You have only, when before your glass, to keep pronouncing to yourself nimini-primini. Miss Alscrip. Nimini-pimini-imini, mimini—oh, it’s delightfully enfantine.
  • 1786 G White Let. 25 Mar. in R. Holt-White Life & Lett. G. White (1901) II. 154, I hope you practice every day at your Glass; and that you are by this time perfect mistress of ‘Nimini pimini’.
  • 1801 Monthly Rev. 35 324 With..a smirking countenance, and ‘nimeny pimeny’ lisp.
  • 1822 L. Hunt Indicator No. 23 I. 178 To see her proud, affected, niminy-piminy face in.
  • 1830 J. Jekyll Corr. (1894) 221 an exquisite, her husband a nimini pimini gentleman.
  • 1840 Thackeray in Fraser’s Mag. July 115/2 But was there ever such a niminypiminy subject treated in such a niminypiminy way?
  • a1894 R. L. Stevenson St. Ives (1898) xxv. 190 A niminy-piminy creature, afraid of a petticoat and a bottle.
  • 1945 R. Hargreaves Enemy at Gate 45 That niminy-piminy, shallow, self-conscious intellectualism.
  • 1985 R. Davies What’s bred in Bone (1986) v. 300 Parents are terribly niminy-piminy about telling their children these things.
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in words


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Proust, My Dictionary and Me

More words from In Search of Lost Time

vade-mecum, p. 250: ‘come with me’; n. guide-book; manual

florilegium, p. 292: n. (pl. -gia) collection of flowers; description of flora

beadle, p. 294: n. officer of parish, church, court, etc., for keeping order; mace-bearer. beadledom, n. petty officialdom

sursum corda, p. 295: n. ‘lift up your hearts’; versicle in church service

to take French leave, p. 313: To take without asking leave or giving any equivalent. The allusion is to the French soldiers, who in their invasions take what they require, and never wait to ask permission of the owners or pay any price for what they take.

The French retort this courtesy by calling a creditor an Englishman (un Anglais), a term in vogue in the sixteenth century, and used by Clement Marot. Even to the present hour, when a man excuses himself from entering a café or theatre, because he is in debt, he says: “Non, non! je suis Anglé ‘ (“I am cleared out”).

“Et aujourd’huy je faictz soliciter
Tous me angloys.”
Guillaume Creton (1520).

French leave. Leaving a party, house, or neighbourhood without bidding goodbye to anyone; to slip away unnoticed.

ephebe, p. 334: A youth between 18 and 20 years of age in ancient Greece

Aspasia, p. 335: Greek courtesan and lover of Pericles who was noted for her wisdom, wit, and beauty

ukase, p. ?: Russian edict

proleptic, p. 387: The anachronistic representation of something as existing before its proper or historical time

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Posted by on October 12, 2011 in French Lit, words


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