Word for Wednesday: Gongoozler and others

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In this week’s Word for Wednesday extravaganza we’ll be taking a look at some popular bad habits and the weird and wonderful nomenclature that accompanies them!

  1. Biting your fingernails.
    The often-painful habit is also known as ‘onychophagy’.
    The prefix ‘onycho-‘ is used for words pertaining to the nails and the suffix ‘-phagy’ refers to consumption or feeding.
  2. Stealing food
    This unforgivable practice is known as ‘cleptobiosis’.
    A students nightmare – ever gone to the fridge and realized someone has taken your last drop of milk, leaving you incapable to brew that much-needed cuppa?
    The prefix ‘clepto’ comes from ‘klepto-’: pertaining to theft or stealing. And ‘biosis’ is a Greek compound meaning ‘mode of life’… and to many that crucial cuppa certainly qualifies as a mode of life!
  3. Self-worship
    We can define this habit of self-worship as ‘autolatry
    The offputtingly egotistical tendency to exaggerate one’s own importance is a trait best avoided. That being said, there are certain situations in which ‘blowing your own trumpet’ is permissible, even necessary as excessive modesty can be interpreted as arrogance remember!
  4. Being and idle spectator
    Have you ever witnessed a malady such as someone tripping or falling and been amazed at the number of idle spectators and lack of people running to help?
    There’s a word for these bone-idle bystanders and it happens to be one of my favourites, sounding like a word straight from Spike Milligan: ‘gongoozler’.

I think that’s quite enough bad habits for this week, but if you can think of any more don’t be a gongoozler and please tweet them to us @Spellzone!

Hugh MacDermott

09 Jul 2014
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