Pronounced: RAD-uhl, noun/verb

Notes: This word has more than one meaning

Yesterday’s word

The word squatchee refers to the button on top of a baseball cap.

Background / Comments

Yesterday, I mentioned that this word appears to be a sniglet (a word that should exist in the dictionary, but doesn’t). Sniglet itself is a sniglet; the name comes from a series of books published from 1984-1990. Our word squatchee is not in the dictionary, nor is its variant squatcho, but squatcho did show up in one of the sniglet book series. A sports “color commentator”, Bob Brenley, seems to have been the one who popularized the term, and is frequently referred to as the one who coined the word. In an interview in March 2020, Bob Brenley said that he first heard squatchee from fellow NY Giants player Mike Krukow, but he prefers squatcho, as he thinks the “o” gives it more “panache”. Nevertheless, he does tend to use the terms interchangeably. Quite a bit of interesting stuff about a word that isn’t in the dictionary. (I think I’m going to claim foul in the trivia game for asking me to define such a word)

First usage

This word seems to have started being used in the 1980s


Pronounced: SKWAH-chee, noun

Notes: Also squatcho; I was playing a trivia game and it asked me what this was, and I had no idea. This may be unfair, because it appears that this word may be a “sniglet”: so, if you don’t know squatchee/squatcho or even sniglet, I’ll discuss it tomorrow in the background.

Yesterday’s word

The word bayou means “a sluggish marshy area of water, typically an overflow or tributary to a lake or river.

Background / Comments

As I noted yesterday, I’ve heard the word used, and was pretty close to the definition. The word comes from Louisiana French which came from Chocktaw bayuk (small stream).

First usage

This word started being used in the mid-1700s (it’s older than I thought).


Pronounced: BY-you, noun

Notes: I know the word from reading and television, but I was at a loss to properly define it.

Yesterday’s word

The word fimbriated means “having the edge or extremity bordered by slender processes: fringed

Background / Comments

This word comes from Latin fimbriatus (fringed). I was puzzled by the word “processes” in the definition. In this sense, processes means “prominent or projecting parts of an organism or organic structure”. Although fimbriated can be used as a synonym for “fringed”, it is commonly used to refer to anatomical features. Interestingly, the Latin word fimbriatus comes from fimbria (fringe). The plural of fimbria is fimbriae, which became frimbia in Vulgar Latin, which was taken into Anglo-French as frenge, and came into English as fringe. Thus, fringe and our word come from a common source, but came into English via different paths.

First usage

The word showed up in the late 1400s


Pronounced: FIM-bree-ay-tuh, adj

Notes: Some crafty people may know this word — I didn’t

Yesterday’s word

The word sagamore means “a chief or leader”

Background / Comments

The word comes from the Indian (that is, Native American) Eastern Abenaki word sakama.

First usage

This word showed up in the early 1600s

Rejected word

I don’t know how well-known it is, but the word recuse was rejected because I happen to know it… do any of you?


Pronounced: SAG-uh-more, noun

Notes: A handy word to know

Yesterday’s phrase

The phrase white elephant means

  • a property requiring much care and expense and yielding little profit
  • an object no longer of value to its owner but of value to others
Background / Comments

The original white elephant was a sacred animal in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar. Because it was sacred, it could not be used as a beast of burden; it was instead a ‘burdensome beast’, as it ate a lot, but brought no money to its owner. There is a story (I’ve heard it) that kings of Siam (Thailand now) gave white elephants as gifts to those they wished to ruin due to the cost of maintaining the animal.

First usage

This word showed up in the mid-1800s

white elephant

Pronounced as you expect

Notes: I very nearly left this word out of the list, because I know the meaning, but I didn’t have a clear understanding of the origin, and I found it interesting.

Yesterday’s word

The word coffle means “a line of slaves or animals fastened together”


This word comes from the Arabic word qāfila (caravan or traveling companion).

First usage

This word first appeared in the very late 1700s.


Pronounced: KAW-full, noun

Notes: An unknown word to me

Yesterday’s word

The word cornpone means (an an adjective) “rustic; folksy; countrified”. As a noun, it is “unleavened born bread, baked or fried”.

Background / Comments

This word is combination of the English word corn with the Virginia Algonquian word apones (bread)

First usage

This word was first used in the mid-1800s


Pronounced: CORN-pone, adj/noun

Notes: After reading the adjective definition, I think I ran across this years ago, but since I could not define it, it qualifies for this list.

Yesterday’s word

The word scarify means

  • to make scratches or small cuts in
  • to lacerate the feelings of
  • to cut or soften the wall of (a seed) to hasten germination
Background / Comments

The word scarify is actually two words: the word defined above comes from a Greek word meaning “to scratch an outline”. The second word that was formed by combining “scare” with “-ify” (possibly a combination of “scare” and “terrify”) and means “to scare or frighten”.

First usage

The word as defined above came into English in the 1300s; however, the other meaning noted in the comments didn’t show up until the late 1700s.


Pronounced: SKER-uh-fie, verb

Notes: I didn’t know this word, and my guess that it was related to “scare” was wrong

Yesterday’s word

The word backronym refers to “a word re-interpreted an an acronym”

Background / Comments

The word is a blend of “back” + “acronym”. It is taking a word and pretending that it is actually an acronym for some made-up phrase. For example, one could claim that ‘acronym’ is itself an acronym for “A Contrived Result Of Nomenclature Yielding Mechanism”. I enjoy this kind of thing, but I usually begin with actual acronyms or alphabetisms and invent a new expansion.

First usage

Another more-or-less recent word; it showed up in the 1980s.


Pronounced: BACK-roe-nim, noun

Notes: I’ve run across this word, but couldn’t define it to my satisfaction

Yesterday’s word

The word bright-line means “providing an unambiguous criterion or guideline – especially in the law

Background / Comments

This word began in courts in the first half of the 1900s; they described whether or not a “bright line” could (or could not be drawn) to make clear-cut distinctions between legal issues. It is speculated that the term may have originated with physicists – the distinct color lines in the light spectrum. It was in the later 1900s that bright-line began to be an adjective, and moved to usage by non-legal types.

First usage

The non-legal adjective began to show up in the 1980s