Word Nerd – “C” Part 1

to cabobble is to mystify, puzzle or confuse

cachexia is a chronically bad outlook or way of thinking

a cacchinator is very loud laughter

cacoepy is a word for incorrect pronunciations

a cacogen is a hostile, unfriendly, or antisocial person

cacophemism is the opposite of a euphemism

a cadence is the harmonious combination of colors

cagg is a solemn vow not to drink for a certain period of time

to calamistrate is to curl the hair

calenture is burning passion or zeal

calliphygian means “having beautiful buttocks” while steatopygia is the condition of “having excess fat on the buttocks;” pygian is from the Greek puge, “buttocks”

cambric tea (origin is Cambria, Wales) is a beverage for children containing hot water, milk, sugar and a small amount of tea

camelopard is an old-fashioned word for giraffe

canard, the French word for duck, gave rise to cancan because of he dance’s resemblance to the wiggling bottoms of ducks

canoe is purported to be the first word from Native American languages to pass into European villages

a witch’s trick or mischievous device is a cantrip

being slight intoxicated is capernoited

a capitonym is when the meaning of a word changes according to whether it starts with a capital letter, e.g. earth/Earth, herb/Herb

literally, carnival means “flesh, farewell” as Lent meant giving up food such as meat, so the big meal before Lent was a farewell to meat

carouse comes from a German expression “time to leave the bar” or “last drink before closing” and the original meaning of carouse was “[drink] to the bottom of the glass”

the supermarket shopping cart was first called a cartwheel

cataglottal is pertaining to passionate kissing with tongues

catamaran can mean “a quarrelsome woman”; the word comes from Tamil kattamaram “tied to wood or tree”

letting off steam by cursing is catarolysis

caterpillar is from Old French chatepelose, “hairy cat”

cathexis is the concentration of emotional energy on one person or thing (activity, idea, object) countercathexis is an attempt to block from one’s own consciousness anyone or anything that is objectionable; and then there is hypercathexis, desire amounting to mania for an object

catlap is a weak drink, fit for only cats to lap

cattle is derived from Anglo-Norman cattel “movable property” and first meant “personal property”; a rancher driving cattle would call them chattels or capital

having a tail is caudate; having no tail is anurous

etymologically, cauldrons are for heating not food but people, from Latin calidarium “hot baths”

to cavil is to raise frivolous objections, find fault unfairly

cecity is blindness of the eye or mind

celebrate comes from Latin meaning “to fill often or numerous times” – alluding to the drinking involved in festivities

a centiday is a period of 14 minutes 24 seconds, or a hundredth of a day, used especially in the study of plant growth

cephalgia is a medical term for headache

the ancient Roman goddess of agriculture was Ceres, giving us the word cereal

if someone is in need of a shave, they are chaetophorous

the chantepleure is to sing and weep at the same time

a violin string is a chanterelle

chaogenous means “born into or among chaos”

chaparajos is the full form of chaps

character comes from Greek kharassein “engrave” as it first mean a distinctive mark impressed or engraved; character also has a sense of “branding-iron”

character is what one is; reputation is what one is thought to be by others

a charientism is an elegantly veiled insult

charisma first meant “the god-given power to perform miracles” (from Greek kharis, “God-given grace, favor”)

an intensive, eleventh hour effort to accomplish or finish something before a deadline is charrette

a chasmophile is a lover and seeker of nooks and crannies

a chasmophyte is a plant that grows in the crevices of rock

chatoyant derives from French, literally meaning “to shimmer like cats’ eyes”

Nicolas Chauvin, a French veteran known for extreme patriotism, was the origin for the word chauvinism

chavish is the sound of many birds chirping or singing at once

if you checkle, you laugh heartily

to be cheeping-merry is to be half-drunk

cheese derives from Latin caseus, “to ferment or become sour” which becomes queso in Spanish

an old word for “keep warm” is cherish

a cherophobe is afraid of having fun

chevelure is the trail of a comet or a fancy word for a head of hair

chicken-pecked means under the rule of a child

a figure of one thousand equal sides is a chiliahedron

a chimera (pronounced kuh-MIR-uh) is the head of a lion, body of a goat, and tail of a serpent

to chipe is to cheep and whine, to speak in a high-pitched voice in a persistent, complaining manner

grasshoppers chirr – make sound by rubbing rough surfaces together

to chirrup is to say or make high-pitched sounds

chivvy means “tell someone to do something repeatedly”

to chizz someone is to cheat or swindle them

choir was first spelled quere/quer in English (from French) but changed because of its Latin root chorus

a choller is a double chin or the hanging lip of a hound

choosehow means “under any circumstances” as in “He will have to do it choosehow.”

choreography is based on Greek khoreia, “dancing in unison,” from khoros “chorus”

chortle is probably a blend of chuckle and snort and was coined by Lewis Carroll

if something is undertaken to make money it is chremastistic or quaestuary

Christ is from Greek Kristos, “anointed one”; Christ was not Jesus’ last name, just his title

chthonic “inhabiting or pertaining to the underworld” is from the Greek khthon, “earth”

chubby is derived from chub, a thick-bodied European river fish

chug and hugg makes chuff

cilantro is the leaves or coriander

cipherdom is the state of being a nobody, a nonentity

to circumambulate is to beat around the bush or to approach something indirectly

another word for the common people or a mob is a clamjamfrie

clancular means secret or underhanded

to clapperjaw is to scold

a claque is a group of people hired to applaud an act or performer

to clepe is to call or to name; its past forms are cleped/clept or ycleped/yclept

late night refrigerator raiding is called cleptobiosis

to leave finger print smudges on a clean surface like windows is to climp

clinamen is an inclination or bias

clinomania is an excessive desire to stay in bed

clinquant means glittering, as tinsel or spangles

clivose means hilly or steep

to cloffin is to sit idly by a fire

to clointer is to make a noise with the feet, like treading heavily in shoes

cloying means “overly sweet” – from the verb cloy, “to overload, to surfeit with food” or “to gratify beyond desire”

chunk and lump = clump

hands stiff with cold are said to be clumpst

if you are clumse, you are stiff from the cold

the difference between a coast and the shore is the coast is seaward limit of the land the shore is the landward limit of the sea

cob meaning “spider” survives only in the word cobweb (from Old English, literally “poison head or cup”); cob was first spelled cop(pe)web as coppe meant spider

cockamamie, “nonsensical, ridiculous,” may be corruption of decalcomania

to cockerate is to brag

a candy heart with a message is called a cockle

a cock-tailed horse was one with a docked tail, usually non-thoroughbreds which raced, and this led to the sense of “lack of purity; adulteration” which probably led to the cocktail as drink sense for an “adulterated” spirit

if your Adam’s apple is larger than normal, you are cock-throppled

the word coffee derives from Arabic qahwah, a word originally used for wine or a drink made by infusion; when coffee first arrived in Europe, it was known as “Arabian wine”

cogitabund is being deep in thought

cognomen is literally “name by which one is known”

cohonestation is honoring another with one’s company

a word inventor is a coiner or neologist

a collation is a light meal at an unusual time – a bringing together of elements required for a meal – and the verb can mean “have lunch with”

to talk secretly is to collifobble

collision involves two or more moving objects, not a moving object and something stationary

a typical arrangement or combination of words is a collocation, such as “red apple,” “nice day”

collywobbles is a humorous term for stomach pain, queasiness, intense anxiety, or nervousness (from colic + wobble)

baby seahorses are called colts

columbine means “dove’s plant” as the inverted flower has some resemblance to five pigeons clustered together

the adjective form for dove is columbine

a long curving wave is a comber, a wave that curls over and dissolves into foam is a breaker, and a long wave moving steadily shorewards is a roller

comestion is a fancy word for eating

comity is courtesy and considerate behavior toward others

the fully critical word commercialism indicates a system which puts financial profit before any other consideration

company once meant “sexual intercourse”


To be continued………




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