Today’s Best Word Ever is quiddle: to dawdle, to spend time on trifling endeavors.

A charming verb and likely linguistic smoothie of quiddity and fiddle or twiddle. Quiddity (1530s) stems from quidditas, Middle Latin, literally “whatness,” the meaning having evolved from scholastic disputes over the nature of things.

During lengthy departmental meetings over which he presided as chair, Professor Prolix was infamous for quiddling on academic minutia while fiddling with his favorite fountain pen as his fellow academics sat twiddling their thumbs.

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    Some Very Bad Verse

    Per blogopus reader request, here’s a taste of the worst (in my opinon) to go with your morning cocoa and a window full of the season’s first real snowfall. Found on pages 103–04 of Very Bad Poetry (Vintage, 1997), edited by Kathryn Petras and Ross Petras, I present “I Saw Her in Cabbage Time: A Dutch Melody,” by Slocum Slugs, Esq. (1857).

    Enjoy—but get out the Tums:

    I saw her first in Cabbage time,
    She was a-cutting kraut—
    She’d stop the cutter, now and then,
    To turn the head about;
    And as she’d salt it in a tub
    And stamp it down awhile
    Upon her fresh and rosy lip
    Reposed a witching smile.

    I saw her next in Winter time
    And still she gaily smiled;
    For there upon the cooking-stove
    Her grub was being boiled;
    Around the huge and greasy pot,
    The steam came pouring out;
    And from the smell I knew that she
    Was cooking “speck” and kraut.

    When next I saw her, in the Spring,
    She smiled not as before:
    A heavy weight was on her heart—
    The kraut was “all no more!”
    The pot she used to cook it in
    Was eaten up with rust;
    The cutter hung upon the wall
    ‘Mid spider webs and dust.

    To say that one can smell the sauerkraut a-simmering while reading this poem is an understatement. It’s bad in every poetical direction—from pairing “boiled” and “smiled” in an end rhyme to establishing the image of a gay young girl as a greasy, sweaty, steamy cauldron of sauerkraut to using a rusty pot and dusty cutter as a metaphor for a broken heart. Talk about versifying speck* and kraut!

    And now this post is all no more!

    *Speck = pork. 

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      Today’s Best Word Ever is purlicue: a summary or résumé of addresses or sermons.

      A noun, chiefly Scottish, but of uncertain origin. Some sources include additional meanings for purlicue: a flourish or curl at the end of a handwritten word; the space between the thumb and extended forefinger.

      Dr. Bombast read his professorial purlicue to the dozing class from a handwritten draft in spidery script laced with curlicues.

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                         —for a friend 
        Some hearts break like bread.
        Others break like bone.
        Some hearts loam the earth.
        Others set to stone.
        I have built my wall
        stone by stone by stone.
        I must sow my grief
        on this mound of bone.
        Let me weep these tears!
        Fields of words have grown.
        Hearts can rise like bread—
        love will tumble stone.
        Felicia Sanzari Chernesky

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          dust                daydream
              bookworm       boogaloo
                    tightrope           turnstile
              retire                 rollercoaster
          diary                   declaim
              Tebow                 tussle
                    clabber            CHEESE    bury                     bulb
               Detach               disappear
          bleet and/or BELLOW: I’m still here…

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