Saturday, January 5, 2013


Do you remember the first time you heard a weird word and thought, "what the hell does that mean?"  Do you remember exactly where you were and the circumstances surrounding the experience?
I do.

I was working in my dad's office as a teenager during one summer.  He was the medical director for the county medical care facility (nursing home) besides his family practice.  A call came in from the nursing home one afternoon and I was to "tell the doctor that so-and-so had expired."  Expired?  um, like in a subscription to a magazine expires?  I didn't ask for clarification because I was too embarrassed but when I gave dad the message he cleared it up for me - with a smirk on his face.

The other one also happened in my dad's office but not actually to me.  A friend of mine had come in (again, I was working the summer job so I was young - that's my excuse anyway) and our beloved nurse, Louise Pullen, gave him a jar and told him she needed a stool sample.  Stool?  Like the thing you sit on?  Wait, that doesn't make any sense.  I didn't have a clue either but when Louise saw the confused look on my friend's face she gently explained the procedure.  Now there's a life lesson for ya.

My third example (I'm sure if I sat here long enough I'd come up with more but you remember how I like to keep these things on the short side so . . . ) also takes place in a medical setting.  

It was soon after I gave birth and I was doing medical transcription at home for a group of general surgeons.  One of them always sounded like he had a mouth full of marbles so that was a huge challenge but the other guy used the word "peruse."  Once I learned the meaning of it I used it ad nauseum  (don't know if I spelled that correctly or not because it didn't pop up on spell check - just go with me on this, k?) because it makes me sound quite bright without coming off like a snob.  Right?  

You guys must have some good ones - spill 'em! 


  1. One of the stranger things to me is to know a word in print, but when you hear it spoken for the first time by someone it seems completely new.

    1. I'm thinking of words in a crossword that you see all the time, like obi and prickly pear, but never hear spoken.

  2. Eschew Obfuscation and Synchronicity. Two of my favorites from Dr Ralph Chandler.

  3. Wooo, Obfuscation. That's a new one on me. Just another way to remember Ralph.

  4. I remember watching the Today show,(1967 or 1968) they were introducing a "pianist". I hadn't learned that word yet (not sure why) but, I thought they said "penis". I was mortified that this man playing the piano was a "penis". Poor guy.

  5. Sue Lange taught me the word "pompous". She used it to describe a gentleman here in Allegan. She refered to him as a "Pompous asshole" Loved her.