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Ask Dr. Wordy

February 5, 2012
By KELLY VAN DE WALLE , Times-Republican

Often, my wife will approach me (lustily, of course) and ask me to educate her on various words. Being an expert wordologist, I try and keep the condescension out of my voice as I drop knowledge bombs all over her head.

"No, I know what it means," she'll say, lustily. "I just can't read your handwriting. Your grocery list looks like a muddy hedgehog had a seizure. You DO know you can write between the lines, right?"

This lack of word knowledge must be so frustrating for her.

I've always been fascinated by words. In fact, you'll notice there are quite a few in this sentence alone. It probably won't surprise you to learn I keep a journal filled with words I find particularly fun or interesting. I know what you're thinking and, yes, it is hard to live life as a renegade "bad boy."

This must be exactly what Robert Pattinson feels like.

Excerpts from my journal include: gadzooks, haberdashery, bezoar, chalice, occipital, pigwidgeon, knobby, rigmarole, soliloquy and twitterpate.

I try to insert one of these words during the course of a daily conversation, though sometimes try to cram several into one or two sentences (warning, only professional wordographers should attempt something as dangerous and awesome as this):

"Gadzooks! Pardon this soliloquy, but using the organ adjacent to my occipital bone I spied a chalice that has me all twitterpated! Kind sir, I find this salad to resemble that of a bezoar. Pray, enough of this rigmarole! Fetch me something knobby!"

Applebees waiter: "Riiight. So did you want an appetizer or what?"

In my continuing quest to improve humanity, I feel as though I should provide answers to common reader questions about grammar, vocabulary, punctuation and the like. I figure this probably qualifies me for a Nobel Prize or something. But I don't do it for the recognition. I do it for the money. And the recognition.

Q: What, exactly, does "opine" mean?

A: This is an expletive used by lumberjacks when felling a tree but missing their mark and having it land on a beaver.

Example: "Opine, Douglas, we did it again!"

Douglas: "Opine! And what kind of lumberjack name is Douglas?"

I'd provide an exact definition but this is a family column.

Q: Kids these days use the phrase "Holla back at me." I'm old and not "with it" as much as you are. Please help!

A: Sure, gramps. "Holla" refers to the village Holla, located in Norway. Kids these days are big into geography.

Q: Really?

A: Oh, big time. It does have a lesser-known meaning. A colloquial phrase (colloquial, meaning, "choked full of collo") it's slang for of "holler" used as a greeting. I suggest if anyone ever asks you to "holla" at them you creep up to him or her when they aren't looking and yell into their ear.

Q: Mr. Wordy

A: It's "DOCTOR" Wordy. I didn't go to Imaginary Word University (go Fighting Semi-Colons!) for four years to be called "Mr."

Q: Sorry. DOCTOR Wordy. What does it mean when someone is "on cloud 9?"

A: It's an expression derived from Buddhism. The state of being in "Cloud 9" is the penultimate goal of the Bhodisattya, which is a type of Middle Eastern custard dessert. It means being really happy, as if covered in custard.

Q: What is a palindrome?

A: It's a very friendly indrome.

Q: Sometimes I get an email from a friend who uses strange words like "l8r" "b4" and "4get." What does this mean?

A: It means that you should get a new friend.

Q: What does it mean when someone types a sentence using only capital letters?

A: The consensus among us wordinistas is that it means they are shouting. I picture them also standing on a chair playing a gong, sometimes accidentally falling.

Q: What does "ROTFLMAO" mean?

A: This is a spell word that, if uttered correctly, will turn anchorman Brian Williams into back into a dinosaur.

Q: What do you think about pop star Ke$ha using a dollar sign in her name?

A: I think it's great that the mentally challenged are being represented in mainstream pop culture. I hear she goes to the store by herself now.

Got a language question for Dr. Wordy? Let him know!


Kelly Van De Walle (a.k.a. "Dr. Wordy") is the senior creative writer for Briscoe14 Communications ( He can be reached at or via one of his indrome friends.



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