Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Withenay's Wednesday Word

One Christmas my grandfather was given a new dictionary. In the period while granny made dinner, my uncle took the dictionary and played an impromptu game of Call My Bluff. He chose a random word: we had to make up a definition...then he told us the correct answer.

We'd had a few rounds of miserable efforts when he asked, "What does nictitate mean?"

My father huffed, "Oh, I don't know!" before making up some ridiculous answer.

My heart was racing. "It means to blink," I said, grinning from ear to ear. My uncle looked up in amazement, before admitting I was right and returning to reading the dictionary.

"How on earth did you know that?" my father asked.

"It came up when I was helping my husband revise for his medical exams," I explained.

Medics do have their uses, if only to get one up on my uncle and father (two of the most intelligent, erudite and word-centred men you could ever meet!)

It has been a bit of a favourite word ever since.

For 2013, I thought I would start a new series about words and their meanings on a Wednesday (simply because it alliterates well with Withenay and Word). I had thought of setting the Call My Bluff challenge to define them, but then remembered all you would have to do is google the word to get the answer. So instead, your challenge will be to invent a sentence in the comments box that includes it.

Sometimes they will be chosen because I like them; sometimes because they are unusual; sometimes because I have heard or read them in the previous week; often because that is just where the dictionary took me. Together we can expand our vocabulary, inch by inch (or maybe letter by letter). 

And so to the first Withenay's Wednesday Word:

to blink (a verb)
from the Latin nictitare - to wink repeatedly


Hearth-mother said...

Um...of sunshine so far this year, nictitate and you'll miss it?

Catharine Withenay said...

Haha! I like it!
(And far too true!)

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