Random Words in Random Places

11 Jan

I was thinking today about how I remember where I was and what I was doing when I learned a certain word. Don’t ask me why I was remembering this; I don’t know. But it got me to thinking of other words where I remember the time and context in which I learned them. It seemed like it would make a worthy blog post. So here they are:

Expendable – This is actually the word that prompted this post. I learned the word while listening to Adventures in Odyssey as a kid. One particular episode was riffing the old Star Trek series. During the course of the adventure, the characters happened upon a dangerous circumstance. Rather than having one of the recognizable, named characters go potentially get hurt, they sent out the aptly-named “expendable crewman”. It’s a lot funnier in hindsight now that I know both the word and the series to which they refer.

Nostalgia – This was actually the name of a craft store in the Dallas, TX area when I was 10 or 11. When I first saw the word as we drove by, I had never heard it pronounced, and didn’t take proper time to sound it out. It looked like it should be Spanish to me, so for a long time I thought it was pronounced “no-stal-ah-GEE-ah”. Then I actually said it that way to my mom, and was subsequently informed (after some giggling) of how the word sounded and what it actually meant.

Defenestrate (meaning to throw someone/thing out the window) – I learned this from the SuperPoke application on facebook about a year ago.

Pugilist and philatelist – respectively meaning “boxer” and “stamp collector”. I learned these in a Heywood Banks song called “Philip Farr” (abt. age 13).

Antidisestablishmentarianism – Reading The Light and the Glory (yeah, yeah, I know, try not to laugh too hard). I was probably twelve years old or so. It took me a really long time to figure out how to pronounce it, but boy was I pleased with myself when I did.

Taxidermy – Another Heywood Banks song, titled “Monseiur la Kiki la Cat”.  I’ll leave it to your imagination as to what that word was doing in that song.

Discombobulation – A record (yes, the big round groovy vinyl thing) that I listened to when I was probably 7 or 8. But I actually thought that this was a made-up word for the next two or three years. It made me very happy to discover it was a real word that actually meant what it seemed like it should mean.

Catatonium – Yet another Heywood Banks song, called “The Cat Got Dead”. And it didn’t bear much better for the subject of this song than “taxidermy” did for Monseiur la Kiki.

Avid – A cartoon in a kids’ magazine called God’s World. Admittedly, the point of this cartoon was to teach its readers new vocabulary words. Evidently it worked. I still remember what the cartoon looked like and everything.


Posted by on January 11, 2009 in Life Happens..., Random


Tags: , , , , , ,

6 responses to “Random Words in Random Places

  1. xristosdomini

    January 11, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    I think the really funny part is that I remember the vast majority of these instances as well. so it is possible that you are remembering these experiences because you learned a new word, or quite possibly because I said something horribly stupid at the time.

  2. brianbeattie

    January 12, 2009 at 7:44 am

    I still like “Yucktherium” and “Monkey-stuffing”

  3. Dorean Beattie

    January 12, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Thanks for such a fun post! It reminded me of when I learned a word: “produce”. I was in kindergarten. and we were on a field trip to the grocery store. Like we’d never seen a grocery store before… Sheesh! The only thing I remember about the trip is the taacher pointing to the wall above the veggies and saying,”Here’s a new word: produce. It means fruit and vegetables.” I thought it was really cool to find out there was a new word. I’m embarassed to admit I was in college before it hit me that the teacher meant the word was new to us, not that the word had just been invented!

  4. Dorean Beattie

    January 12, 2009 at 8:32 am

    PS–Please edit my above post. I know how to spell teacher, really. I just can’t type in the morning…

  5. Dorean Beattie

    January 12, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Oh, and, um… Sorry about the giggling…

  6. Ben Varner

    January 24, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Wow, this post of yours got me thinking. I remember when I learned the word “nauseous” from my best friend – we were at Family Fun Center playing all the coin games, and he had brought some of his older play-house actor friends, and I felt forgotten. I went looking for him, and he was with the older kids jumping on some trampoline thing, and he was laughing and saying he was feeling nauseous – I turned and ran hard, because I didn’t want to grow up! Funny…

    Also, before coming to school at FSM I was at ISU in Ames, and would come to every conference here. I learned two words here. One was “paradigm”, which when I heard Mike say it, I turned to my now wife and told her he didn’t know how to pronounce “pair-uh-DIG-um”… yeah, and one of my majors was english, sad to say! The other was “conviction”, which was prayed over me at an altar call. It’s kind of scary that I grew up in the church having never heard that word before (and anyway, I didn’t get saved until four years ago, here in the prayer room).

    Fun post! – Ben


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