Words for the Week: P


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 ‘P’. 

Parisology (noun): The use, especially deliberately, of ambiguous words. 

Shit. I’ve been rumbled. 

Pleep (verb): Scotland. To speak in a querulous, complaining tone of voice. The word was originally used to describe the chirping of a bird. 

I mean, that’s the sound lil birbs make, isn’t it? Pleep, pleep pleep. I love it. And I love that it’s also people complaining – it makes me thing of lil birbs arguing: “You said we could have this nesting site this year!” “I do not remember that, you must be mistaken.” “Outrage!”

Polrumptious (adjective): Cornwall, Kent, Lincolnshire. Restive, rude, obstreperous, uproarious. The word seems to be an inventive combination of poll ‘head’ and rumpus. 

Basically, polysyllabic words that end in ‘tious’ are apparently always winners with me. I have a type. A word type. Ha! Is that a typography joke? 

Poronkusema (noun): Finnish. An old unit of measurement equivalent to the distance travelled by a reindeer before needing to urinate. Approximately 7.5 kilometres. 

As a side-note: I did not know that the length of a metre is how far it is from the North Pole to the equator divided by ten million?? That’s incredible. Distance is trippy, folks. I decided, in the end, not to follow this down the rabbit hole of medieval distance-measurements. That’s another post, for another time (possibly never). 

Pap (noun): Irish English, Scots. Mountain or hill whose shape is thought to resemble that of a breast.

So apparently there’s a word for that. And why wouldn’t there be? Round hills with kinda pointy tops look like breasts. Let’s all be grown-ups and admit it… using a word that I’m pretty sure also means poop. 

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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