Archive for February 20th, 2011

February 20, 2011

Funny words, persnickety

The fussy Mr. Persnickety, pic:tvrecappersanonymus.

As I am writing about funny words I realize how often my first intuition about a word’s meaning is completely wrong.  Point in case: persnickety.  To me it sounds like sneaky or conniving – probably because of the “snickety” part that sound like “sneaky.”

Alas, it means something quite different: being fussy about details, being snobbish, requiring a great degree of precision.  if you require that everything is done just so you are a persnickety person.  Good synonyms would be nitpicking and finicky.

Here are some examples:

“The older he got the more persnickety he became.”

“Our math teacher is very persnickety, if not everything is perfect he gives you a bad grade.”

The word is fairly old and apparently of Scottish origin.  It is one of those words one uses rarely to make a point rather than incorporating it into the  everyday vocabulary.

February 20, 2011


There are countless ways to call somebody  stupid, some more subtle and gentle than others.  Here are a few you might hear on an ordinary day.  Most you wouldn’t actually say to the person in a context like: “you shouldn’t do this, it is a really stupid idea”.  Rather it is what you say about people who aren’t present.

A six-pack but not short on bottles, pic:

“He is a beer short of a six pack” – there are many variations of this expression which is based on the idea that somebody is missing a few components of a complete solution (here a six-pack = traditional pack of six cans/bottles of beer).   Very similar: a few fries short of a happy meal (fast food meal for kids).

He fell out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down – no explanation necessary

Elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor or a variation thereof: the light are on but nobody is home

He/she is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. – sharp in the double meaning of sharp knife that cuts well and sharp (smart thinker, mentally keen person)

There are more, dozens – at least.