In my other life, I’m a writer, and words are my business. You’ll understand, then, why I’ve so enjoyed perusing The Whatchamacallit by Danny Danziger and Mark McCrum, a humorous book offering the elusive names of 100 ordinary items.
From the tiny yellow seeds in a strawberry’s skin – achenes (pronounced a-keens) – to the small skullcap worn by members of the Roman Catholic Church – zucchetto (pronounced zoo-ket-oh) – Danziger and McCrum have a word for “it.”
Does that rumbling, gurgling, growling sound made by your stomach have a name? You betcha! It is borborygmus (pronounced bor-buh-rig-mus). Have you ever seen a moonbow, the rainbow’s nocturnal equivalent? If not, stand with the moon at your back, and with the right kind of moisture in the air, you’ll see the ghostly bow ahead of you. If you’re ready for a game darts, you’ll want to know where the oche (rhymes with Rocky) – the line behind which you must stand – is located. Are you a banana lover? Then you’ve likely dealt with phloem bundles (pronounced flo-em bundles) – those squidgy, stringy bits that run between the skin and the edible portion.
Danziger and McCrum have packed their little book full of words you know but can never remember and/or never knew at all. Thanks to their many digressions, you'll increase your vocabulary by way more than 100 words before you reach the last page and have fun doing it. For those interested in further study, a list of selected sources is also included.