September 09, 2014

Three Witty Words - Shirley S. Tye

While reading novels, I come across words that I either do not know or haven’t seen or heard in a long time. I jot them down into a little notebook and later search my dictionary to discover their meaning. Since my vocabulary is small, I keep the list thinking that I just might use some of those words in one of my stories.

Some words that I come across make me smile. I don’t know why, perhaps they ring with a comical melody in my ears or they conjure up a humorous scene in my imagination. Here’s three that make me smile; highfalutin, tatty, and shenanigans. Highfalutin, an adjective, means absurdly pretentious according to the Oxford Canadian Dictionary. That same dictionary describes tatty, an adjective, to mean inferior, tawdry, or worn. It explains shenanigans, a noun, to mean high-spirited behaviour, nonsense, trickery, or dubious manoeuvres. Ah, there’s another funny sounding word; dubious. I like that one.

At least, I can pronounce dubious unlike shenanigans. Somehow I manage to twist the letters with my tongue so that the word doesn’t come out quite right. In one play that I was in, that word was in a couple of my lines. During rehearsals, I slaughtered it which made the other actors, director, and stage manager laugh. Fortunately, by opening night I finally had the word down pat; if I spoke it slowly.

Well, let’s see what nonsense I can write with those three funny words. Our shenanigans came to an abrupt halt when the highfalutin Mrs. White stepped into the room. She glared at our little group who had stopped in mid stream of their actions like a paused video. Slowly she closed the door behind her and found me cowering in the shadows. She sniffed once as she stared down her long skinny nose at me and my tatty outfit. I know my jeans were ripped at the knees and my tee-shirt was stained; a vast difference from her satin dress and string of real pearls about her long thin wrinkled neck. But I hadn’t been aware of any foul odour about me. I was sure I had applied underarm deodorant that morning. So why the sniff?

There are so many words in the English language; some witty ones and some tongue twisters. What fun!


  1. I really like those three words too.

    And you gave us a chuckle at your shenanigans by playing around with your witty words.

    Thanks, Shirley!

  2. I too liked your three words and the story you wrote with them.

    It is true, English vocab is never-ending and keeps growing daily, it seems. English originated from a mix of many languages. Perhaps that is why it is so easy to inject words into English from other cultures and other languages even today and nobody seems to mind. Our world gets smaller and the English vocabulary gets bigger. Interesting.

  3. Great words! What a fun post!I think I will start a little word book.....

  4. Your post was an enjoyable read, Shirley. I enjoyed you writing shenanigans! Didn't know you were an actor as well as a writer. Are you a multitalented and multifaceted person?

  5. Hi Shirley
    I also like writing down and using new words, although it sometimes appears a little highfalutin when the words end up out of context in my effort to make them fit!


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