The Junction
Published in

The Junction

Words You Have Taught Me — May 2021

№ 17 — a Look Who’s Back listicle

hold your angry letters! this photo was taken pre-Covid

WYHTM is back, after a near-year-long hiatus. Rested, fortified, vaccinated — as good as new.

It was always a good bit of work, assembling these linguisticles — not to mention the requisite reading — and after sixteen installments spanning four years, featuring over 470 unique terms and expressions, I was burnt out.

But even when I got busy with other pursuits and dialed back my reading, the idiomatic novelties kept cropping up at a steady pace.

Staying true to our tradition, the content below draws from multiple languages, including Kazakh, Arabic, Kannada, German, Italian, Greek and Swahili. And there are a few slang terms in the mix also.

So, without further ado: here is the latest in literary lingo, journalist jargon, author’s argot and pencil pusher pidgin that I soaked up here since the last time we did this …


the point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid, or comet at which it is furthest from its star

from Alex Guenther — of 108 sonnets fame

azathioprine, azoturia

azathioprine — antimetabolite used especially as an immunosuppressant
azoturia —an abnormal condition of horses characterized by muscle damage especially to the hindquarters and dark-colored urine containing nitrogenous substances from muscle tissue breakdown

from Speaking Fiction To Power


“comes from the early days of blogging, when bloggers would often include a list of useful links on their blog (it was literally a roll call of your favorite links. hence, blogroll). It sounds simple, but before search and social media were ubiquitous parts of the internet experience, blogrolls played a crucial role in discovering new content online”

from the product launch article penned by Sam Jayne


a rare, unusual, or intriguing object; short for curiosity

from Tanya E. Denhere

dombra and Daididau

dombra (Kazakh, also dombyra) — a long-necked Kazakh and Bashkir lute and a musical string instrument

read Elisabeth Khan’s story for the full story of Daididau


(Greek) the peaceful state of mind after a pleasant dream

from Rachel B. Baxter


(slang, British) “the gammon are 99.99% white, male, and ruddy-faced — at least when they’re mouthing off about something that raises their blood pressure”

from Katy Preen


(slang, German) literally “face condom” — a COVID-ism

from Rashmee Roshan Lall


(Swahili) “danger”, also a 1962 safari comedy starring John Wayne and Elsa Martinelli

fom Steven Hale

Hueco Mountains

(Spanish) a range of mountains that rise in southern Otero County, New Mexico and extend south into Texas, generally along the El Paso–Hudspeth county line

from K.C. Knouse


according to Sally Ito, “It’s a condition poets have” :-)


as exceptional reading ability at an early age without age-appropriate language and speech skills. it is a learning disability accompanied by language deficits.

from Esther Spurrill-Jones

intercostal muscle

muscles that run between the ribs, serving to move the ribs in respiration

from Stephen M. Tomic


tear-feeding, characteristic of a number of insect species including moths, butterflies, and bees, usually on the tears of mammals, in pursuit of minerals, chiefly sodium

from David B. Clear

milk vetch

from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


an institution, said to have been founded by Ptolemy I Soter, which which included the famous Library of Alexandria

from Moin Uddin


oily, greasy; exaggeratedly and distastefully complimentary; obsequious

I used this vowel-rich beauty (consonant content only 40%!) in a limerick lampooning our then Vice President, in the final days of the Trump lame duck presidency — but a few days before the now-infamous Capitol Insurrection, so things were kind of still up in the air, and merciless satire was fair game.


(noun) unnecessarily elaborate or complex procedure
(verb) talk unproductively and at length

from Laura Sheridan


matched set of ornaments, or a set of jewels intended to be worn together

from Lise Colas

purlicue, ulna

purlicue — the space between one’s forefinger and thumb
ulna —the thinner and longer of the two bones in the human forearm, on the side opposite to the thumb

from Mary Holden


This one is pretty obvious, yet somehow it never comes up in everyday conversation. 🤔… from Sylvia Wohlfarth

a large geologic landform that rises from the ocean floor but that does not reach to the water’s surface, i.e. a submarine mountain


(derived from the Arabic sharqiyy) a Mediterranean wind that comes from the Sahara and can reach hurricane speeds in North Africa and Southern Europe

from Trisha Traughber


(Italian) tablet, bar, sheet of wood

from enric


“trans-exclusionary radical feminist”, first recorded in 2008, the term originally applied to the minority of feminists espousing sentiments that other feminists considered transphobic

from Jude Ellison S. Doyle


(Kannada) “Ugadi is a festival celebrated in Karnataka, a Southern state in India. The most likely origin of this word is from these two words — Yuga which is a period in time, and Adi which means the beginning. So Ugadi stands for the beginning of a period of time.”

from Anu Anniah

velvet ants

common term for Mutillidae, a family of more than 7,000 species of wasps whose wingless females resemble large, hairy ants sporting bright colorts, a.k.a. “cow killers” on account of their painful stings

from Christyl Rivers, Phd.

Thanks for your continual patronage!

Please don’t be shy, send me your novelties so that I may include them in the next go-around.

Here are all previous episodes of #WYHTM:




The Junction is a digital crossroads devoted to stories, culture, and ideas. Our interests are legion.

Recommended from Medium

Storytelling Secrets from Boston’s Best Storytellers and Professional Speakers

The One Challenge That Will Kick Your Writing Ass

Omo (boy)E Be Things

The Arc of the Narrative — Small Town Reality

Can’t Come Up With a Strong Beginning? Start From the End.

Writing Advice I Keep Forgetting: Make Dialogue Authentic

Self-Publishing: 3 Things I Did Right

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Joe Váradi

Joe Váradi

Editor of No Crime in Rhymin' and Language Lab | ..."come for the sarcasm, stay for my soft side"

More from Medium

The Miserable Opulence of an Oligarch’s Yacht

Dynamite For Our Old Wounds

What Do You Do With Impossible Reality?

I Will Be the Bearer of Awkward News