Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Definition: (from
1. askew; awry
2. positioned diagonally; cater-cornered
3. diagonally; obliquely

"The little girl scowled at her mother when she put the plate of cookies catawampus to her on the long table."
"The normally straight line of reindeer became catawampus when Santa accidentally dropped a cookie on the way to his sleigh."

Origin: (from
"also catawampous, cattywampus, catiwampus, etc. (see 'Dictionary of American Slang' for more), American colloquial. First element perhaps from obsolete cater 'to set or move diagonally' (see catty-cornered); second element perhaps related to Scottish wampish 'to wriggle, twist, or swerve about.' Or perhaps simply the sort of jocular pseudo-classical formation popular in the slang of those times, with the first element suggesting Greek kata-.

Earliest use seems to be in adverbial form, catawampusly (1834), expressing no certain meaning but adding intensity to the action: 'utterly, completely; with avidity, fiercely, eagerly.' It appears as a noun from 1843, as a name for an imaginary hobgoblin or fright, perhaps from influence of catamount. The adjective is attested from the 1840s as an intensive, but this is only in British lampoons of American speech and might not be authentic. It was used in the U.S. by 1864 in a sense of 'askew, awry, wrong' and by 1873 (noted as a peculiarity of North Carolina speech) as 'in a diagonal position, on a bias, crooked.'"

Awkwardness rating: 8

I'll go catawampus any day for a cookie. (

Monday, August 24, 2015


Definition: (from
-verb (used without object)
1. to engage in a petty quarrel
-verb (used with object)
2. Printing. to disarrange and mix (composed type)
3. a petty quarrel

"There was a heated squabble over the last piece of cake at the party. After that, holidays were awkward for years."
"The couple began to squabble about who would pay the check. You can guess who lost that one."

Origin: (from
"c. 1600, probably from a Scandinavian source and of imitative origin (compare dialectal Swedish skvabbel 'a quarrel, a dispute,' dialectal German schwabbeln 'to babble, prattle'). The verb also is from c. 1600."

Awkwardness rating: 7


Monday, August 10, 2015


Definition: (from
1. the thick-bodied, sluggish larva of several insects, as of a scarab beetle
2. a dull, plodding person; drudge
3. an unkempt person
4. Slang. food; victuals
5. any remaining roots or stumps after cutting vegetation to clear land for farming
-verb (used with object), grubbed, grubbing
6. to dig; clear of roots, stumps, etc.
7. to dig up by the roots; uproot (often followed by up or out)
8. Slang. to supply with food; feed
9. Slang. to scrounge
-verb (used without object), grubbed, grubbing
10. to dig; search by or as if by digging
11. to lead a laborious or groveling life; drudge
12. to engage in laborious study
13. Slang. to eat; take food
"I'm starving - can we get some grub?"
"Why don't you do some laundry; you look like a grub!"

Origin: (from
"'larva of an insect,' early 15c., perhaps from grub (v.) on the notion of 'digging insect,' or from the possibly unrelated Middle English grub 'dwarfish fellow' (c. 1400). Meaning 'dull drudge' is 1650s. The slang sense of 'food' is first recorded 1650s, said to be from birds eating grubs, but also often linked with bub 'drink.'"

Awkwardness rating: 6

Look at all that grub! (

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Definition: (from
1. contained in or carried on by letters
2. of, relating to, or consisting of letters

"This epistolary novel focuses on the unrequited love between a man and his television."
"Their epistolary relationship was abruptly ended at the start of the great pencil shortage."

Origin: (from
"1650s, from French √©pistolaire, from Late Latin epistolarius 'of or belonging to letters,' from Latin epistola 'a letter, a message' (see epistle). In Middle English as a noun (early 15c.), 'book containing epistles read in the Mass,' from Medieval Latinepistolarium."

Awkwardness rating: 5

Dear Television, How I love thee. (