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Wondrous Words Wednesday

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‘Wondrous Words Wednesday’ is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we have encountered in our reading.

It is hosted by Kathy, over at BermudaOnion’s Weblog. You can either stop by and leave a link to your own ‘mystery’ words of the week, or just browse the eclectic mix of words that others have discovered, there is always a great selection.

Don’t forget that Kathy and the rest of us, all love to read your comments  as well!!

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 My Words This Week Come From:

The Parting Gift by Rachel Van Dyken and Leah Sanders

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I am  almost certain that many of my US followers will know both of these words, however they are certainly new to me, so I thought them to be worthwhile mentioning.

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1. COOTIES

… Then, as if Blaine was terrified she would somehow give him COOTIES, he leapt to his feet and pulled her to hers …

Cooties is, in American childlore, a kind of infectious disease. The term may have originated with references to lice, fleas, and other parasites. A child is said to “catch” cooties through any form of bodily contact, proximity, or touching of an “infected” person or from a person of the opposite sex of the same age. Often the “infected” person is someone who is perceived as “different” and bears some kind of social stigma: of the opposite sex, disabled, someone who is shy or withdrawn, someone who has peculiar mannerisms, etc.

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2. LONG-HANDLES

… He grabbed his jeans from the sewing chair and pulled them over his long-handles hurriedly ….

Long-Handles are basically what I would have assumed from the context in which it was written, to be little more than long underwear.

Here in the UK however, this word is virtually unknown and our own description of a similar garment would be Long-Johns.  I really did have to chuckle at the definition of Long-Johns in all the on-line dictionaries, where they are described so proudly as “informal” underpants … “informal”, what’s that all about? What on earth do ‘formal’ underpants look like I ask myself ?

Then I came across another anomaly, in several parts of the US, a Long-John is another name for a frosted bar-shaped doughnut with a variety of fillings. Here in the UK, a doughnut is simply a doughnut, whatever the filling and frosting. Subsequently I read that some US Long-John doughnuts, are called Eclairs, whereas an eclair in the UK, is a bar shaped choux pastry cake, filled with cream and topped with melted chocolate …..

Click on the link for the recipe, they really are delicious

This is getting too complicated for my poor little brain, although I can’t help smiling at the thought of the fun to be had in both countries, when making purchases from a shop …

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After all that distraction, back to the serious stuff …. books, I am really enjoying ‘The Parting Gift’ so far.

Happy reading all!

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Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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15 comments
    • Hi Kathy,

      Over here, we just refer to the little bugs as ‘lice’ or ‘nits’, but I actually think that ‘cooties’ sounds a bit nicer.

      I am not too sure about the part where ‘cooties’ can also be caught by contact with someone who is perceived as ‘different’. Not quite ‘politically correct’ these days and I doubt whether you would get away with saying it in the UK.

      Thanks for hosting again this week and i hope that you are enjoying your day.

  • I had to laugh when I read your line, “What on earth do ‘formal’ underpants look like I ask myself ?” Great question, now I’m wondering, as I’ve never come across any! 🙂

    • Hi Muzette,

      Thanks for stopping by and introducing yourself. I love to ‘meet’ new people who love books and the written word as much as I do and your comments will always be appreciated here, no matter what you want to talk about.

      I just had to include that afterthought in my post, as I kept thinking about the concept of these full length ‘informal’ underpants. I am still trying to visualise what the ‘formal’ version might look like and ‘google’ wasn’t really much help, although I can’t think why!!

      Answers on a postcard please! LOL

      I like it when I come across new words that I can have a bit of fun with and where I am learning something at the same time.

      Sometimes words are just a difference in meaning between the UK and US version of them, but some of the words people find are real ‘stinkers’ (humdingers?). I only wish that I could remember them all for use in future conversations.

    • Hi again,

      I just stopped by your blog and wrote a comment on your post, but it would not allow me to post it.

      I didn’t really want to have to log in to leave comments, as this allows WordPress access to my twitter account, which I don’t want.

      I would love to be able to chat with you …..?

  • Cooties was always a bit of a cruel game. I suppose kids still play it, not much different from other types of teasing that crosses the line pretty quickly into bullying.

    I’ve never heard of long-handles, but I do call both long underwear and long doughnuts “long johns.”

    • Hi Joy,

      I can see why, when ‘cooties’ is used to describe head lice or nits, it may be appropriate use of the word, although the disease is still so prevalent in our schools, that it is now an accepted occurrence and goes largely unmentioned, let alone ridiculed.

      It is a word that does cross the line quite quickly into bullying, when used as a term in a cruel game though. I can’t think of an alternative word or game which is in common use over here, although we still obviously have our fair share of bullying, which it is almost impossible to curb.

      ‘Long Johns’ as a term for a doughnut really did have me chuckling to myself though. It’s one of those great anomalies that mark out our same English language, as in fact so different, depending on where you come from. The thought of going into the cake shop this morning and asking for a ‘long-john’ …. No! can’t even contemplate the response I would get.

      I have been thinking about this since yesterday though and have now come up with a doughnut based cake which we make here and is called a ‘yum yum’. It has no filling, but is covered in a sugar glaze. It is really only sold by one chain of bakers and is directly aimed at the child market.

      http://www.greggs.co.uk/menu/sweet/yum-yum

      I guess that sounds just as silly as a ‘long john’ donought!

      It’s great when you come across words that you can have a bit of fun with.

      Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the rest of your week.

    • Hi Linda,

      I’m only sorry that I missed your Salisbury post, before I wrote about my visit, but there are just so many great blogs out there to visit, that I can’t keep up with them all. I am genuinely interested in what other people have to talk about and I try to write more than just a one line response to a post when I visit a site, so by the time I have researched about the topic or book which is being discussed, replying to just one blog can take quite a long time.

      I only wish I could remember some of the great new words I learn from this meme and my reading, but a lot of it seems to ‘go in one side and out the other’, I guess it is simply an age thing!

      I can’t believe that I am in the same country as I was at the weekend. Since Monday it has been cold, damp, overcast and foggy, such a contrast to the springlike day on Sunday.

      I was hoping that it might have been a little nicer for tomorrow. The 6 soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan a couple of weeks back, came from Battlesbury Barracks in Warminster, which is just down the road from us and where I go to volunteer for the hospice. There was due to be a celebratory marchpast through the town centre tomorrow, as the rest of the battalions are going out to join the advance part in a couple of weeks. Now it has become a sombre march of remembrance in memory of their fallen comrades.

      All of the shops in the town are closing for an hour, both as a mark of respect and because so many army wives work in the businesses, who want to watch the parade. Unfortunately a pre-booked dental appointment means that I shall not be able to be there, although I shall be thinking of them all.

  • Fun words this week. ‘Cooties’ reminds me of grammar school. In order to not ‘catch’ the cooties we would chant ‘circle, circle, dot, dot. I’ve got my cootie shot!’
    Crossing our fingers also prevented the ‘cooties’
    As little girls, boys always had the cooties and vice versa.
    I’ve heard of long johns but not long handles.

    • Hi Naida,

      Since so many of my US readers have come on and said that rhymes like this were very much the norm. when they were at school, I have been racking my brains to see if I can remember anything similar from my UK school days. I can’t believe that we were all such little angels, but I just can’t recall anything! Perhaps we were so bad that I just have a case of selective memory, after all it is a very long time since I was at school and we don’t have any children of our own.

  • Great words. I’ve had too much of a misspent youth watching the Simpsons to not know cooties. My understanding of it is more like what we would call “boy germs” or “girl germs” rather than a particular body inhabitant. I’ve never heard of either usage of long-handles. I must say eclairs sound much tastier than long-handles. It sounds a bit much like love handles doesn’t it?

    • Hi Louise,

      ‘Boy Germs’ and ‘Girl Germs’, what a great way to put it, but I bet you wouldn’t be allowed to get away with discrimination like that as a child these days!!

      I must admit that ‘Long Handles’ in the context of underwear made me smile, but to see it used as a reference to food (especially a food so delicious as cake) just made me laugh aloud. I think I shall definitely stick with donuts and eclairs (which are very ‘moorish’ and delicious believe me!)

      We won’t talk about ‘love handles’ thanks. I have reached the age when they are a taboo subject in our house and generally remain hidden beneath voluminous clothes!!

      Thanks for making me smile so early in the day.

  • Oh, I love the word COOTIES! My husband and I still use it all the time. And just the other day I was talking to someone about making a cootie catcher.

    On the other hand, I have never heard of the word “long handles” to describe longjohns or anything else. “Longjohns” has always meant, and only meant, long underwear in my world. Nothing to do with doughnuts. I grew up in Nebraska and have lived in Oregon since high school, so maybe the doughnut meaning is an east coast thing.

    Likewise, I’ve only encountered eclairs as the same thing you have in the UK, never as a doughnut.

    What a great meme. Thanks for sharing your words.

    • Hi Gilion,

      I can’t believe your link showing your ‘cootie catcher, I recognised it straight away. We used to make them all the time when we were kids, but I can’t for the life of me remember what we called them, or the rhyme we used to sing when we were working them.

      I had completely forgotten about this game, usually played by the girls to determine which one of the boys you were going to marry.

      Wicki refers to the ‘cootie catcher’ also being called a ‘salt cellar’ and that does sound quite familiar, but I can’ t be sure … Agh! just found another link, we definitely called it ‘truth or dare’ and there is a great link with instructions on how to play the game and this is exactly what we used to do.

      http://familyfun.go.com/assets/cms/pdf/printables/1206_sopafp_cootiecatcher.pdf

      Thanks for bringing back some long forgotten memories and joining in the discussion.

      There are always some amazing words to test the brainpower with, so join in one week if you have the time.

      Have a great weekend.

Written by Yvonne

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