One of the interesting words that was mentioned on the Words Unravelled podcast that I listened to today was taradiddle, which apparently means a little white lie.

According to Wiktionary, taradiddle (or tarradiddle) means a trivial lie, a fib, silly talk or writing, or humbug.

It possibly comes from diddle (to cheat, swindle, waste time, etc.), which might come from duddle, a dialect word meaning to trick, and/or diddle / duddle (to totter), from Middle English dideren (to shake, quiver, tremble) and bididren (to seduce, deceive), from Old English bedidrian, bedyderian (to trick, deceive) [source].

crazy drummer

A diddle is also something that drummers do involving two consecutive notes played by the same hand. Related drumming terms include paradiddle, which involves playing four even strokes in the order ‘right left right right’ or ‘left right left left’ [source], and paradiddle-diddle, which involves playing six even strokes in the order ‘right left right right left left’ or ‘left right left left right right’ [source].

Another diddlesome word is diddle-daddle, which means to dilly-dally, shilly-shally, dawdle, waste time or procrastinate, something I’m quite good at [source].

Incidentally, shilly-shally is a reduplication of ‘Shall I?”, and used to be Shill-I-shall-I [source].


In one of the Spanish lessons I did on Duolingo this morning, I came across the interesting word muchedumbre, and thought I’d write a post about it.

Muchedumbre cantando en contra de los Mossos

Muchedumbre [mutʃeˈðumbɾe] means crowd, throng, multitude, mob, herd, or flock (of birds). It comes from Old Spanish muchedumne, muchidumne, from Latin multitūdinem (a great number [of people], multitude, numerousness, crowd, mob, throng), from multus (much, many), from Proto-Italic *moltos (much, many), from Proto-Indo-European *ml̥tós (crumbled, crumpled), from *mel- (to worry, be late, hesitate) [source].

Words from the same roots possibly include mejor (better, best), muy (very), mucho (much, a lot of, many) and multitud (multitude, crowd, a lot, loads) in Spanish, multitude in English, and mieux (better, best) in French [source].

Incidentally, if you’re keen on crowds, you might like to darse un baño de multitudes (to mingle with the crowd) [source], or darse un baño de masas (to go on a walkabout) [source]. Un baño de masas can also mean ‘to walk into the crowd (by a famous person)’ [source]. This might attract una muchedumbre de admiradores (a crowd of admirers).

I tend to avoid crowds, which isn’t difficult living in a small city in the wilds of north Wales. How about you?

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In this post, we’re discussing things jentacular and prandial.

Jentacular / Prandial

You may have heard of the words preprandial (occurring before a meal, especially dinner) and/or postprandial (after a meal, especially after dinner), how about prandial or jentacular?

Prandial means “Of or pertaining to a meal, especially dinner.” It comes from Late Latin prandialis, or from Latin prandium (late breakfast; lunch, any meal, fodder), possibly from Proto-Indo-European *pr̥h₂mós (first) and *h₁ed- (to eat) [source].

Words from the same roots include pranzo (lunch or dinner) in Italian, pranzu (dinner, lunch) in Maltese, and prânz (lunch, noon, midday) in Romanian [source].

Jentacular is an archaic word that means “Of or pertaining to breakfast; specifically, one taken early in the morning or immediately upon getting up.” It comes from Latin iēntāculum (breakfast), from ientō (I breakfast), a form of ieientō (to eat breakfast), from Proto-Italic *jagjentō, from PIE *h₁yaǵ- (to sacrifice, worship) [source].

Words from the same roots include diner, dinner and jejune (lacking matter, naive, simplistic) in English, jantar (dinner, to dine) in Portuguese, xantar (dinner, lunch) in Galician, déjeuner (to [eat/have] lunch, to have breakfast) in French [source].

Apparently in ancient Rome, the first meal of the day, which was eaten at about sunrise, was called iēntāculum. It usually consisted of bread, fruit or leftovers from the night before. At around noon, people would have a light meal called prandium, and at about sunset they had their main meal or cēna (dinner, supper). They may have had another light meal later in the evening as well. Originally, the main meal was eaten at midday, but later moved to later in the day [source].

Are there interesting meal-related words in other languages?

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New Old Words

I spent last week in Donegal in the northwest of Ireland learning some more Irish, and learning about the area where I was, Glencolmcille (Gleann Cholm Cille in Irish). I had a great time, met some interesting people, and saw some beautiful places.

Gleann Cholm Cille

The course I did this time is called Language and Landscape: The Heritage of Gleann Cholm Cille / Teanga agus Timpeallacht: Oidhreacht Ghleann Cholm Cille. It involves Irish language classes in the mornings, and walks, talks, trips and other activities in afternoons and evenings. It’s run by Oideas Gael, an Irish language and culture centre in the southwest of Donegal which is celebrating its 40th year this year. I’ve been there for 16 of those years: every year from 2005 to 2019, and in 2024.

In previous years I’ve done courses there in Irish language, harp and bodhrán playing, and Irish sean-nós singing. I always enjoy my time there, which is why I keep going back. Most of the people there were from Ireland, and there were also people from the USA, UK, France, Canada, Portugal, Austria and Russia.

Slieve League / Sliabh Liag

So, as well as practising my Irish, I got to speak other languages like French, German and Japanese. In class our teacher also taught as a few interesting words in Ulster Scots.

These include:

  • gollumpus = an ungainly person; a large, loutish, uncoordinated person
  • gomeral = a fool, simpleton lout
  • glype, glipe = a stupid and annoying person
  • clart = mud, mire; a lump or clot of something disagreeable or distasteful; a big, dirty, untidy person

Gomeral is a diminutive of Middle English gōme (man, warrior, husband, male servant), from Old English guma (male, hero), from Proto-Germanic *gumô (man, person), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰmṓ (man, person) [source].

Clart comes from Middle English *clart, from biclarten (to cover or smear with dirt) [source].

I’m not sure where the other words come from.

Sunset / Luí na gréine

One thing we did in class was to come up with some new proverbs in Irish. Incidentally, the Irish word for proverb is seanfhocal, which literally means “old word”. So here are a few new old words:

  • Ní aon maitheas an chomhad a shabháil agus an riomhaire múchta agat.
    There’s no good in saving the file when you’ve turned off the computer.
  • Ní léiríonn solas an scáileáin bealach éinne.
    The light of the screen shows no one the way.
  • Is fearr traein amháin ná míle gluaisteán.
    One train is better than 1,000 cars.

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