Words for the Week: I


Hello again, folks! Welcome to another episode of Words for the Week, which happens every Sunday. I have so many books full of great words, and I so rarely have an excuse to delve into them. So I’m putting together a small selection of these lovely words once a week, in the hope that you enjoy them as much as I do. This week’s words begin with ‘I’. 

Inamorata (feminine) or Inamorato (masculine) (noun): A person who is loved; a lover. Derived from Italian innamorare ‘to cause to fall in love’.

This is cute. That’s my reason for including it. What would be cooler, was if someone with a better understanding of Italian could come up with a gender neutral term. Anyone?

Interbastation (noun): Patchwork quilting.

First of all, I think we’ve all gathered by now that I enjoy obscure technical terms for familiar things. What I also enjoy in this case is that the word itself invokes a reminder of another word with quite a different meaning. I think we all know which one I mean.

Izzard (noun): Cheshire, Cumberland, Derbyshire, Durham, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Scotland, Suffolk, Wiltshire, Yorkshire. An old name for the letter ‘z’. Widely used in dialects in Britain and America; British developments included ‘izzardly‘: to the last degree. If you were ‘as crooked as an izzard’ you had a perverse disposition.

I am mostly including this one because it’s Eddie Izzard’s surname. I do like that his name is, essentially, ‘Eddie Z’. If you don’t know who Eddie Izzard is, search YouTube for ‘Cake or Death’ and fall into the rabbit hole from there. The lego versions are especially great.

Iktsuarpok (noun): Inuit. The anxious and irresistible need to check whether who, or what, you’re waiting for has arrived yet.

Glancing at a clock or watch repeatedly, checking your phone, peering out of the window: all of these are acts of iktsuarpok. It encompasses not only the actions, but also the feeling of anxiety, the feeling of potential disappointment if they don’t show up. To quote from the passage: “Whether it’s a bus or the love of your life, it doesn’t make sense – when they get here you’ll know, and they won’t arrive any more quickly because you keep leaping out of your chair or peering anxiously down the road. But you just can’t help yourself.”

Iset (adjective): Shetland. The colour of ice. Also isetgrey, isetblue.

See, here’s the thing. Ice is one of those things, like fire, that is almost impossible to describe by colour. So I love that someone came up with a word that is literally just ‘ice-coloured’, with a couple of alternatives in case it’s any closer to a definite colour. It’s an acknowledgement of the shifting colours and nature of ice, and a beautiful word.

This week’s words were sourced from Foyle’s Philavery, collected by Christopher Foyle; The Greeks Had A Word For It by Andrew Taylor; Landmarks by Robert McFarlane; The Disappearing Dictionary by David Crystal.

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