Sunday, August 08, 2004


A tiny titillating tidbit of forgotten English...

While perusing the latest addition to my bookshelf entitled, The Word Museum - The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten, by Jeffrey Kacirk, I came across a charming if not fanciful word, "quidnunc".

The letter "Q" has always been near and dear to my heart, being The Quipping Queen of course. Naturally any word that begins with a "q" is bound to grab my attention. And, all the more so because I had absolutely no idea just what on earth a "quidnunc" was anyway.

According to my esteemed friend Jeffrey, a "quidnunc" is "an inquisitive person, always seeking for news." The Latin translation of quid nunc means "What now?". So for all of us who haven't a clue what comes next..."quidnunc" sounds like a pretty good choice doesn't it. Besides, using this word in one's daily speech will either bemuse or baffle the listener. This will afford a "quidnunc" the occasion to go off on a tangent like any inquisitive sort should do under the circumstances. More to the point, curiosity may have killed a few cats but it certainly will not crush a quidnunc!

Where was I? Ah yes...well being a bit of a quipping quidnunc myself, I ventured further into one of my favorite tomes, Websters Ninth New College Dictionary, the authoritative source on all things really, really important (like supersize fries, Hollywood stars, and the latest bargains at Wal-Mart ...just kidding!).

According to Merriam-Webster & Friends, the word "quidnunc" (which originated in 1709) means "one who seeks to know all the latest news or gossip: BUSYBODY". Hmmm...busybody also conjures up such rich epithets as a 'Peeping Tom', a 'Nosy Parker', a snooper or a rubberneck.

Frankly, I think my American friends have taken a lot of liberty by adding a pejorative interpretation to the original meaning. However, it might also explain why so many virtual voyeurs can be found rivetted in front of their TV sets 24/7. Yup...there they are...all watching the latest sale items on the shopping channel, shocking headlines on the news junky channel, extreme sports on the armchair athletes' channel, reality entertainment for the bored-to-death babyboomers' channel, and late night talk show channels for the snooze alarm-deprived and the ignoramusly-impaired. In my humble opinion however, the "busybodies" aren't the boob-tube-challenged. The last time I looked, I thought it was the glib, greedy advertisers who kept butting in on the latest bit of botch or burlesque masquerading as "content" in these 'world-class' sideshows.

Methinks it's high time for the "quidnuncs" to come out of their closets and cube farms. Let's get off the couches and into the coffee houses I say... where at least we can practice flapping our gums together in harmony with the rest of the human race!

Better yet, why not form the Institute for the Ressurection of Quidnuncs (IRQ) as a positive contribution to global warming. Just think of it...what a grand opportunity to hold a giant international hug fest where we can all sing "Koombyah", "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands", and "Puff the Magic Dragon"! It's already sending cheap thrills up and down my spine!!

...This merry message has been brought to you today by the Weird Word Wench. So tune in again soon for another installment from The Wordium (where lost words find new meanings and new words find lost meanings or whatever).


For those of you who want to know more about The Word Museum, The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten by Jeffrey Kacirk, try: