My dad had all kinds of colorful sayings. “I hope to kiss a garboon,” he’d say, to emphasize how much he meant what he was saying. There were a few that were acceptable then, that are no longer appropriate, so we’ll skip those, but he did say the darnedest things. One of the words he used regularly was “whopper-jawed.” I was a kid, so I didn’t really think about what that meant. It’s not like we were texting back and forth, so I never saw the word in print. I actually thought it was spelled wopperjod. When I pronounced it, it definitely sounded like wopperjod. Much later, I thought to ask what the heck this word meant. I really don’t know or care about the origin of it because I have enough minutiae in my brain to fill a ten-story building, but I do think it’s a cool word.
One other very fun memory I have is from the eighth grade city-wide spelling bee. This was the written portion where we would find out if we qualified for the next level. All my life, I had been reading the word façade as Fuh-Kade. All my life. I didn’t even know what it was. As a young reader, I read now and figured out what it meant later or not at all. So, during the spelling bee, I was doing my best and suddenly i hear this word Fuh-Sahd, only I had no context whatsoever for it, and simply could not imagine what they were saying. I thought and thought and thought and didn’t arrive at façade. The best I could come up with, and believe me this was hard for Miss Goody Two-Shoes to write, was pissad. Greg and I still use this word to this day because it’s just so precious. “We have greatly altered the pissad of our home by adding vinyl siding.” LOL.
Back when Reader’s Digest was a ubiquitous magazine, I’d always do the “Word Power” challenge. I have always loved words and have written elsewhere about my spelling triumphs and failures, as well as my 30-year streak of playing Boggle with my Dad. I’ve always noticed words and enjoyed word play. Do you have any words that you originally thought were something else?