At a Loss for Words

February 20, 2009 was a day that changed the world, yet people seldom remember it. In fact, about 0% of Americans acknowledged its tenth anniversary last month, and that just broke my (so-called) cold little heart. After all, who could forget the premiere of “Tip of the Day,” the beloved thirteenth episode of the second season of Phineas and Ferb?

That was THE episode, in which the titular characters made mankind appreciate what it once did not––the AGLET, the little plastic tip of the shoelace. After this momentous episode, everyone knew what to call “one of the most useful, yet tragically ignored inventions in all of history.” Yet somehow we have all neglected to remember this most crucial moment of our nation’s and all nations’ histories.

Image Credit: Phineas and Ferb

But I say that today, we should take a minute––just a minute––of silence to respect the aglet. And then I say we take another minute to respect all the other words that go unappreciated––words like "aglet" that are incredibly useful for when you just can’t find the right word to say.

Like when you’re at IHOP and you want to impress your date who is certainly your soulmate, and you want to tell them you play the bagpipes, but bagpipes are so reminiscent of funerals, and you don’t want to bring down the flirtatious vibe with some light funeral chatter. So what do you do? You use a handy synonym for the bagpipe: the doodlesack! Because saying that you play the doodlesack will for sure put the "fun" back in "funeral" for you and your date.

And then, of course after telling your date that you play the doodlesack, you have to pop out that bad boy and have yourself a little bagpipe jamboree, and you just know that your date, eternally impressed by your divine music, will compliment you. And of course, you then have to reciprocate with another compliment, but you clearly can’t praise their doodlesack skills because they have yet to reveal that they, too, play the doodlesack, but the first thing that comes to mind is that they have a nice posterior, and you don’t want to be crass and say that outright––I mean, this is at IHOP, and you don’t say those kind of things at IHOP. So what do you do then? You remember this article, and you tell your date that they are a callipygian guy/gal. And they’ll be like, "Woah, never in my life have I’ve been so complimented because a) I’ve just been told I have a nice derriere in the classiest way, and b) I’ve also been simultaneously compared to the renowned Venus Callipyge (see below), so basically I’m divinely beautiful to this person."

Image Credit: National Archeological Museum Naples

And what if while you’re on this date at IHOP, you have to explain that you want many, MANY pancakes, but saying that you “don’t want a small amount of pancakes but enough to feed a flock of geese” in between forkfuls is too many syllables to get out when you’re shoving bites of pancake down your gullet? Well, for two syllables fewer, you can use the ever-titillating tittle and gaggle and instead say that you “don’t want a tittle of pancakes but enough to feed a gaggle.”

But what if you get the collywobbles and start feeling icky from eating way more than a tittle of chocolate-chip pancakes on your date (but you have no regrets)? Here’s what you do: say that you’re feeling crapulous and own that borborygm, your tummy’s head-turning, vicious growl that echoes throughout the IHOP.

Image Credit: Giphy

Or maybe that grumble from your midsection is telling you to feed it more, but you’re just too shy to ask for more chocolate-chip pancakes, so you stare and stare and stare at your date eating the desired treat so much so that they might think that you are staring longingly into their eyes. But you and I both know that you’re just a dog quietly begging for food. And if this is what you are doing, then you, my friend, are groaking, another fabulous––but not crapulous––word in the English language.

But if that date is greedy and scoffs at the idea of giving you more chocolate-chip pancakes, call them a bibbling cockalorum because they deserve to be called a self-important little man who eats too loudly. But, on the other hand, what if they’re just joking, and then they give you enough pancakes to feed not one, but two whole gaggles? So then you want to tell them that you feel so stupid for being so gullible, but stupid is a mean word, and again, this is IHOP, and you don’t say things like that in IHOP. Tell them that you feel beef-witted because it will not only tell the person that you feel dim-witted, but it will also ironically show that you are not that dim-witted, because would a truly unintelligent person have such a gorgeous vocabulary as to know the term beef-witted?

Image Credit: Shakespeare Cyclopaedia and Glossary

So dear friends, I know that you will now incorporate every one of these words into your daily vocabulary, because what day doesn’t give you the opportunity to use the words "aglet" or "tittle" or "callipygian" or "crapulous"? Seriously, with the English language constantly changing and growing, everyone has to capitalize on these words quickly before they become obsolete. Sadly, some of these words are already obsolete, but luckily for you and me, we can Dr. Frankenstein them back into this world.

So if you’re smart (which you are because you now know the words "beef-witted" and "doodlesack"), you will want to acquire more words and extend beyond the typical 20,000-35,000 words in a person’s vocabulary. Indeed, as Ben Macintyre once said, “Words are power, and pleasure…[They] make us human... [So a]dopt a new word. Take it home. Add it to your word family and introduce it to the others in your collection. They will play with each other, form new patterns and meaning, making the world a little bigger, a little clearer.”