Flu Season, Word Origins, and an Emu

If you've read much of my blog before, you know I love words.  So, for entertainment tonight, I searched the web for interesting, rarely used words.  I decided that rather than just reading the definitions, I'd try to decipher the meanings myself.  For the most part, I was pretty far off, but on some I at least got in the ballpark.  Here's a humorous look at a few of the words I found.

Confabulate - I was thinking that perhaps this word meant something similar to "confound" or "confounded", but actually, confabulate means to chat.  So tomorrow, when my middle school students are talking during class, I'm going to reprimand them for confabulating.  I'll let you know how that works out for me.

Logorrhoea - I wondered at first if this was some sort of STD.  And then, as I played around with possible pronunciations, I wondered if it was maybe an alternate spelling for that actress who plays on "Desperate Housewives".  You know... Eva Longoria.  But in reality, logorrhoea means excessive talking.  It seems I've stumbled upon yet another word that might be useful in my classroom.  I will announce tomorrow, to each of my classes, that there will be absolutely no logorrhoea in my classroom.  It may be interesting to see what undesirable activity actually stops when I make said announcement.

Crepitus - Many things came to mind when I saw this word.  Perhaps it means something akin to creepy.  Possibly it was some sort of illness, given the "itus" on then end.  Turns out, I was sort of right.  Crepitus is the crackling sound that you might hear in someone's chest, if they were suffering from pneumonia.  I decided this one might come in handy at work, as well, since we're in the thick of cold and flu season.  Naturally, I'd want to inform anyone in my classroom dealing with crepitus to cover their mouth when they cough.

Emunctory - I resisted... barely... the urge to consider that this word had something to do with an emu.  That would've been too easy.  I decided a better guess was that this word referred to some sort of religious place or building, like a rectory.  But alas, I was wrong.  Emunctory, it seems, deals with the blowing of the nose.  Thinking of cold and flu season again, and all the hands and feet and germs that enter my classroom, I realized I could put this word to use as well.  I'll be sure to keep tissue and hand sanitizer on my desk, for those students who must take care of their emunctory needs.

Agrestic - I wondered if maybe this word had a meaning similar to aggressive.  Or if maybe it meant something syntactical, due to the "stic" at the end.  However, I was proven wrong again.  Agrestic actually means rude, coarse, or uncultured.  I was thrilled to discover another word I knew would be useful at school.  I could now inform my students that agrestic behavior was not to occur in my classroom.

I have my speech all ready for tomorrow.  I'd love it if you'd read over it and let me know what you think my students will think.  I'm quite certain it will be effective.  Effective in what, I'm not exactly sure.  Here goes...

"Students, from now on, I will not tolerate logorrhoea in my classroom.  It is distracting to other students who are paying attention.  If you feel you must confabulate, please do so before class begins or on your lunch break.  In addition, to avoid the spread of sickness and disease, any student displaying crepitus will be asked to leave the room until the episode subsides.  For your emunctory needs, tissues and other supplies will be on the front desk, but please be discreet when taking care of emunctory issues.  To do otherwise would be quite agrestive."


  1. I'm sure you're going to get a few blank stares. They are middle school students, correct? :D Is there any way to incorporate those words into an assignment for your students?

    Much as you enjoy words- I thought you might enjoy this site- sort of a vocabulary/definition "never-ending" quiz, but there are also other subjects you can "test" yourself on as well.


  2. Even knowing the definitions when I read your final paragraph that you will say to your students, I could not help but giggle. I don't think they will interpret the definitions as excessive talking and cold-related issues. Just a guess. :)

  3. Amy,

    I suppose it's possible that, as I'm typing this comment, you have already announced your new classroom policy to first hour students!?! :0

    Sorry I didn't see the post earlier. It's been nice knowing you.


  4. Hey ladies! Thanks for the comments. Taryn, freerice.com is a great site. And for anyone reading my blog/comments, if you haven't been there, you should It's a great way to expand your vocabulary, and at the same time help the UN distribute rice to starving people! Magdalena, thanks for the concern. I did make it through the day! Tara, I'm sure the kids would've though all sorts of things about those words, had I really read that to them. I've been thinking of having a "word of the day" on my classroom door. Just a bit of something to help enhance their vocabularies. If I used words like these, it might become interesting to them!