I want to tell you about a couple of conversations I had this week. About language. Teachers love to talk about language, you know. And when a retired English teacher gets into a debate about language with her Hubby who is a retired History (and Phys. Ed.) teacher, well, they can (and do) quite often fall down a language rabbit hole.

But let me go back. The story doesn’t start there. It starts with a new pair of jeans.

Sunny bench in front of Watson's Mill Manotick
An inviting bench in the sun in front of Watson’s Mill.

Last Friday before I met my friend Susan for lunch downtown, I continued my search for a pair of loose jeans that were long enough. I may have mentioned this search before on the blog. For jeans to be wearable with most of my boots, I need a 32″ inseam. I could, of course, survive with my current wardrobe of jeans. I do have one longer pair, my Frame bootcut jeans. So it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I didn’t find what I was looking for.

But searching for loose, longer jeans has become a bit of a thing with me lately. Ever since last fall when I realized that my new dad jeans looked terrible with all my boots. They are too long to look cropped. And just that bit too short to be full-length. So I roll them when I wear them to make the length look more intentional. And less like I’ve had a recent growth spurt. Ha.

Yes, I am aware that I overreact about pant-leg length. But too short jeans are an anathema to me. One that has followed me my whole life. I know. Hyperbole. But nevertheless true.

Me in my pink coat in front of Watson's Mill Manotick
Out and about in the village.

So I have searched high and low to find loose jeans with a long-enough inseam. Until last week when just before lunch I darkened the doors of Zara. Something I haven’t done in a while. But several influencers whom I follow have spoken about Zara jeans over the years, and since the Zara store downtown is a huge one, with seemingly lots of selection, I thought maybe I’d have a go.

The young woman who served me was very pleasant, patient, and helpful. I explained my problem and my mission and placed myself entirely in her hands. Capable hands as it turned out. We toured the racks of clothes. She pulled jeans out, described the fit, then showed me a photo on her phone of a model wearing the jeans to demonstrate the way the pants should fit. Some were a no go, others showed just the kind of pant I desired. I soon decamped to the dressing room with eight pairs of jeans. I found the perfect fit with the third pair. But I tried them all on for comparison, then tried the third pair again. Then I tried them with my boots. Then I bought them.

The jeans are long, and have a slightly split leg at the bottom. I didn’t think I’d like this but it keeps the pants from bunching on the tops of my boots, which I like. They are made from rigid denim. High waisted. With a loose-fitting, slim leg. If that’s not an oxymoron. And they are just the right amount of slouchy for me. They fill that empty slouchy niche in my closet.

Okay. That’s the background. Now to the conversation about language which Hubby and I had earlier this week.

Sunny bench in front of Watson's Mill Manotick

I was heading into the village to run errands and planned to wear my new jeans with a light sweater, my tall black boots, my pink tweed Max Mara coat, and a pink-toned patterned cashmere spring scarf that I bought years ago. This outfit hit the sweet spot for me. Slouchy and casual in places… the loose, long jeans, black boots, my big black cross-body bag… and lady-like in others… the trim pink coat and gauzy pink scarf.

And as I am wont to do I tried to explain the philosophy behind my outfit to Hubby. “You see,” I said, “the slouchy faded jeans make the outfit look less fussy. If I were to wear this coat and scarf with dressy boots and slim black trousers I would look too lady-like. Too prim for how I want to dress now. I’m doing what Amy Smilovic says, dressing using my antonyms. My coat is classic. Kind of lady-like. So I pair it with slouchy, edgy jeans which are the opposite of lady-like. And voila. I have an outfit that matches how I feel and how I want to look. A little fussy… but not too fussy. What do you think?”

Drinking coffee in front of Watson's Mill, Manotick
Sunny and +5C. Perfect drinking coffee on a bench weather.

Hubby’s reply sent us off down a rabbit hole conversation about language. What “fussy” actually meant. What it meant to him, to me. Whether it could have positive as well as negative connotations. When I was still teaching, I was fussy about my work. I spent a lot of time planning fun activities for my kids. Did that mean I held myself to high standards? I’m fussy about my hair. Does that mean I’m obsessed with trivial things? I fuss with my blog until I get a post to read just the way I want. Is that positive or negative? And on and on.

I reminded Hubby of the conversation I had with a boss one time when I’d been unhappy with a decision he’d made over my teaching timetable. I went to him with my concerns. He said that he hadn’t realized that I would “fuss over the issue.” I felt diminished by that comment. I felt that my concerns had been dismissed as small, and slightly silly. One didn’t “fuss” over important things. Only over trivial things. In this case “fuss” had a pejorative meaning.

Finally Hubby said I should look up the definition. One site said fussy people are fastidious or discriminating, but also finicky or hard to please. Concerned with unimportant details. Another said fussy is a more negative way of saying someone is particular. Or a less negative way of saying they are persnickety. Fussy things are overdecorated, overelaborate, overdone, over-embellished.

Sheesh. See what a rabbit hole we fell down? I guess that means my coat cannot be considered fussy. It’s pretty simple in style. Unless the pink tweed can be considered overly ornate. But now I’m just splitting hairs. Or hares. Ha.

drinking coffee in front of Watson's Mill, Manotick
In my fussy pink coat and scarf.
my new Zara jeans
And my new looser, longer, unfussy jeans.

A day or so after Hubby’s and my fussy conversation, I walked with two friends. We walk together every week, if our schedules allow. And as you might expect from a retired English teacher, a retired languages teacher and a retired librarian, some of our talk will stray into our particular areas of expertise. Books, language, words. Not all the talk… but some of it. The rest of the time we yak about clothes, husbands or partners, children, our travels, hair. Whatever.

But just sometimes, like this week when I related Hubby’s and my fussy discussion, we fall down a rabbit hole talking about language. Another language rabbit hole. That’s two in one week.

I’m smiling as I type this remembering the various tunnels we explored as we walked. The evolution of words and expressions. How original meanings get lost and we use expressions with little to no understanding of their origin. I related a story from an article I’d read on how kids often use archaic expressions they don’t understand. One teacher reported a kid saying, “It’s a doggy dog world.”

I remember a class I taught a few years ago where the students had to choose topics for a group assignment. And how after I handed out the list of topics, one group shouted out, “Shotgun number five, Ms. Burpee.” When I asked what the heck they were talking about, one boy said, “You know, Miss, like when you say ‘shot gun the front seat’ in the car.” I’ll never forget the funny and surprising discussion that followed as they explained to me that “shotgun” meant “I get first choice.” And I explained to them the original meaning of “riding shotgun.”

looking downstream from the dam at Watson's Mill, Manotick
Downstream view from the dam at Watson’s Mill

On our walk, my friend Marina who is Lebanese-Canadian told of how, when she began to study Languages in university, she became interested in the Arabic colloquial expressions used by her parents. How she tried to translate them to English from the original Arabic. With sometimes hilarious results. She said in Lebanon if someone asked if you knew the route to a particular place, and you knew the road well because you had travelled it many times, you might say “this road ate a piece of my foot.” Albeit in Arabic. I love that one.

When I was growing up I thought that the expressions used by my mum or my grandmother were known to everyone. Were universal. Like “McCarty slant.” If my grandmother saw someone wearing their hat at a rakish angle, she’d say their hat had a “McCarty slant.”

As a teenager, I said that to a friend who was wearing a hat. He simply looked at me dumbfounded. “Come on,” I said astonished that he was so ill-informed, “the McCarty slant!” I related this conversation to my mum afterwards and she laughed. “My god, Susie,” she said. “How would he know about the McCarty slant? The McCarty’s were a family that lived near your grandmother in Four Falls when she was a girl. The McCarty boys always wore their hats on an angle and Grampy Everett would tease them.”

That story still makes me smile. And I still use that family expression. I’m hoping it might catch on. Ha.

looking upstream from the dam at Watson's Mill, Manotick
Upstream view.

Anyway, my friends, I must wrap-up this post before I stay down this language rabbit hole too long. Before you get exasperated with me. Drain your coffee cup, or finish your tea, and say: “My god, Sue, I can’t sit here all day listening to you witter on about words and language. I have things to do.”

Besides. It’s your turn. Have you tumbled down any conversational rabbit holes lately? Language based or otherwise.

P.S. Thanks so much to everyone who has sent pictures and stories of their hair journeys. Keep them coming. I am loving reading your hair stories. And if you do want to send a photo, please don’t do too much to it in the way of cropping etc. Just take a clear photo with your phone and send it on. Every time a photo is saved after cropping etc it gets less clear and sharp, and may look blurry when published.

P.P.S. Here’s the link to the Zara jeans. This is not an affiliate link.


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69 thoughts on “Down a Language Rabbit Hole”

  1. Fussy, like silly, is something I dislike being called. I find both small-making. A complaint being called a fuss is dismissive. And yes, being particular can be annoying but if you know what you want, you know. When it comes to clothes, I am extremely fussy about labels and cut them out because I cannot bear the feeling of them against my skin. Don’t fuss was always something that was said to children in primary school when I was teaching and it meant, invariably, fidgeting or chatting or not paying attention or messing with pencil cases. Having said that, the words Fussy Eater can make my heart sink.

    1. I’m fussy about labels on my clothes too… and anything even remotely like lace on an undergarment. I sometimes feel like the Princess and the Pea… must be my royal blood that makes my skin so sensitive. Ha.

  2. Well done on finding that elusive pair of jeans . I notice the uk site warns ‘ this product is longer than usual ‘ which isn’t on the Canadian site . I’m thinking you Canadians have longer legs ? I tried the Levi’s you recommended but in a dark grey almost stripey fabric & I really like them . Your McCarty story made me laugh . My mum had lots of funny expressions she used . I actually made a list of them which I mailed out to all her descendants last Christmas . I got to about forty phrases . The one she used the most was at mealtimes when we were all squabbling . She’d wave her fork in the air & threaten to stick us in four places at once . I wish I’d asked her where she got her expressions from . Did her mother use them back in Newcastle ? I’ll never know now .

    1. I heard a great one at a funeral a few months ago: well, that’s just the way I am and my dog’s outside. It made us all laugh. My Cheshire grandmother was always going to the foot of her stairs. No idea where that came from either.

      1. Not heard the dog one before but ‘ Well,, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs ‘ used to be very popular . So many of these old sayings are dying out . Shame really .

          1. We say ‘foot of the stairs’ as well…..I’m from Texas, USA
            I enjoy your blog so much

  3. I just love the way you write and the tales you tell. I smiled all the way through reading this post!

  4. I got into that type discussion this week at book club when I questioned the use of “gifted” instead of gave or given. Did they really say “he gifted that to me” instead of gave to me in London during World War II? Maybe, but that usage annoys me the same way signage does instead of sign. Who keep changing these perfectly good words? The worst is the beauty/fashion industry. Women don’t wear pants or shoes anymore or have lips or eyes, nothing plural. Sometimes I read the descriptions and imagine a woman wearing one pant leg, one shoe with one red lip (half her mouth) and one smoky eye. When you think of it that way, it isn’t quite as attractive is it? Always look forward to your post as a treat with my Sunday morning coffee.

    1. Oh, I hate the used of the word “gifted” instead of “gave” or “given” too, Sara. One I hear all too often by influencers is “colourway” instead of colour. I have no idea where that came from.

      1. Piece for item of clothing. Space for room in a house. Cannot tolerate either. Very pseudo-designer guff.

      2. I think “colourway” is one of those inside industry terms that has wandered out into the general public! I first heard it when I worked in the quilting industry. When fabric reps were showing us new lines of fabric, they would describe them as different “colourways”- 20 or so fabrics that had coordinated colours and multiple scales of prints and solids that would woek together in a quilt or other multi-fabric sewing project. You might have a bold/bright or a soft /pastel colourway of the same group of prints. So it made sense there. I can’t see how the term has any relevance in fashion. The coat comes in blue, black or red “colour”!

        1. That’s what I had assumed. Thanks for confirming. I’d wondered if it was originally meant as a range of shades. Now I think people use it to sound more technical when they actually mean just colour. Like price-point instead of price. More syllables means one is smarter. Ha. Not.

  5. My English Nana was a Cockney from East London and her expressions echoed her family’s roots in the early decades of the last century. My mother, probably thanks to her schooling, spoke more like the Queen but carried some of her mother’s sayings that she heard as a child with her throughout her life. “Black as Ooker’s knocker” was one that made us roar with laughter as she wondered one day who “Ooker” must have been and why his door “knocker’ was black. My clever sister figured out the racy saying was probably referring to “hookers” and I’ll leave you to figure out that “knocker” rabbit hole!

    1. I know that one as black as Newgate’s knocker – Newgate being the notorious London prison. When I heard it spoken, it was pronounced Noogate – perhaps they are linked?

        1. Don’t you love all these expressions? Here’s a favourite one of my grandmother. When asked what was for supper, she’d say, “Potatoes and point.” This apparently was quite common in New Brunswick (where I’m from) during the depression. Supposedly if a family was poor and could not afford to buy meat often, they’d hang the “joint” from the ceiling, over the table and the family would point at it instead of consuming it. Thus… potatoes and point for supper.

  6. Ah I love this post! I could go down a lengthy rabbit hole on this one. Given that my partner is Italian and we have pretty much only been speaking Italian with one another for the last thirteen years, I have many language issues, all of the time. He bemoans my lack of study of Latin, as he attended Liceo Classico and is very well-grounded in Latin and Greek. He recognizes that I have a decent vocabulary, however, as he says I often use words that an average Italian would not, guessing at suitable descriptors I suppose. from my knowledge of French and wide reading in English.

    That’s an aside. Fastidious is a peculiar one. I work with data and I’m very detail-oriented and precise (in that domain only perhaps, but I digress). I tried early on with my partner to use the word fastidioso/fastidiosa to mean exactly this, but of course in Italian the word is used to mean “fussy,” and generally in the pejorative sense, or more likely simply “annoying.”

    When I was growing up, the word fussy was often applied to something overly dressed up or ladylike (e.g., prissy, excessively trying to be something…respectable?), so I can appreciate that usage. That said, upon reflection, I don’t believe I’ve used that word in decades, likely because typical usage now suggests that someone is difficult. Subtleties!

    I also love the McCarty story! There was something my dad said when I was a small child that I have never heard elsewhere, and since he died many years ago cannot ask about: “He doesn’t know his arse from page four.” I’ve speculated, with others, that it was an expression referring to the girls on page four of the paper, but I don’t know that I want to think about it more than that. Haven’t heard it since. It’s very colourful to suggest that someone doesn’t know their arse from something else, though I doubt I would say something like this now.

    PS Very pleased to hear you have been receiving photos of hair journeys! Very tempted to join in the fun…

  7. I’d love to see a head-to-toe photo of you in that outfit Sue. I love the look of that pink coat.
    When I was about to take maternity leave from teaching 36 years ago, I was chatting to the Irish supply teacher, telling her about my classes. I said “oh, the boys in that class are such pickles!” and she looked at me as if I had said something absurd. In my family my mother always used to call us pickles when we got up to mischief and I was convinced it was a perfectly normal term to use for mischievous children. Turned out it was just a family word.
    The Italians call it “lessico famigliare”.

  8. Aw,I love language discussions,both in my native language and English. I enjoy playing with words,new (or old) words and proverbs in Croatian and love Dicta et Setentiae (although I’ve attended math grammar school,we’ve had Latin for two years)
    I learn a lot in discussions here,about english (love different dialects in books and movies)
    Looking forward to see your new jeans-I have to go try something in dark wash but am so lazy to do it in a real store ,with all the winter clothes on now……

  9. I have a cousin, with whom I converse on a somewhat regular basis, who uses the word fuss as a verb, as in, “He was fussing at me about that.” Everytime I think that is an odd usage and chalk it up to her being from the South (U.S.).
    Many years ago, my niece went on vacation with us. She was about 10 years old at the time. On the boardwalk, there was someone guessing age, weight, etc. My niece said, “He must be a sidekick, meaning psychic. And, to this day, everytime I hear someone use the word, “psychic”, I think, and often say, “sidekick.”

    1. I remember reading that term in To Kill a Mockingbird… instead of squabbling, I think. My nephew when he was little used to say his mum was going to the pyrocracker. I still smile at that.

    2. I’m from the southeastern part of the US and fussing is when you’re complaining in a mild sort of a way to or about someone or something. Fussy is as my students say means “extra”. Just too much of something. -Over the top- or a baby can be fussy.
      I’d like to see the jeans, too.

  10. LOVED LOVED LOVED this post! I’m a former teacher, as well, although I taught younger children than you. I live in southwest coastal Connecticut. I’m 82 years old and often go back to your blog for rereads. I love words and playing with words so much and enjoyed your rabbit hole stories! I also might give those jeans a try. Thank you for always hitting the spot!

  11. I also verb the word “fuss,” particularly with respect to my daughter, who “fusses at me” or “has a fussy” or worse, “throws a fussy” (that’s the fussiest of the fusses). Meanwhile, she has re-branded whining to “making observations,” so, she isn’t whining about having tired arms during a long ski, but rather making observations with respect to her tired arms. Sigh…she’s a mini-me…..

    My husband is a maritimer, and every now and then something fun pops up in his language, such as “jimmy jag.” This is when you are going down a dirt road or a village road and you have to take a detour, so you have to do a jimmy jag.

    I love language: how it was used, how it evolves, and how it continues to evolve. I often find myself taking a jimmy jag into semantic holes (?!) when I’m teaching because the kids don’t recognize a word, or I don’t recognize one of theirs.

    1. Jag is used a lot down home, Jo. We say he’s going on a “whatever” jag… which means he’s doing a lot of one thing lately. Like how we go on a reading jag when summer holidays come. 🙂

  12. Language rabbit hole….hmm, how about my husband and I don’t speak the same language. Period. Not for over forty years. Period. My daughters and now my granddaughters know the fight my husband and I will always have over South Boulder Road. It runs east and west by the way. Taking direction from me is not something my husband is willing to do…Period.

    1. I’ve enjoyed your post, Sue, and all of the comments, which have really got me thinking about words and language. But had to reply here to Heather, as I recognize she lives in Colorado! We drove that east/west road many times from our home in Broomfield to Boulder. Tell your husband it must be named as South because it comes in to the south end of the city! But street names and road signs are another rabbit hole, like my favorites in Colorado Springs such as Airport Road that does not take you to the airport, or Fountain Boulevard with no fountains in sight; however in Fountain (the next city south) one of their major roadways is named Fontaine Boulevard. Maybe a fussier way to say Fountain?

      And have to add our new favorite family word that started after the pandemic lockdown when schools were going back in person with new health routines. While lining up to leave my daughter’s classes, the students would hold out their palms for her to give them a squirt of “hanitizer”, and now hanitizer is a staple in our lives, too.

    2. Heather, your comment prompted Stu and I to reminisce about the Mirimichi River back in New Brunswick. It was so many branches and branches off branches it’s hilarious. And a map might read the Southwest branch of the Little Southwest Mirimichi, which is different than the Southwest branch of the regular Mirimichi. Ha.

  13. Hilarious….my “hubby” and I have spent weeks considering: it was pretty good. What the heck is that? As my Mother would say of the expression … is it good, bad or indifferent? At any rate is not an expression of great appreciation for dinner in my not humble opinion.

  14. Oh, goodness, I love language discussions! What a fun one this was. My daughter, a former English major who loves to use an exact and precise word for any conversation, has regaled me with times her “Vermont-isms” have had to be explained to others. Words and phrases like “down cellar,” or “wont, as in I wont going to do that.” Both she, who works with non-native speakers in her office, and I when I taught Ukrainian refugee children, became hyper-vigilant regarding colloquialisms and slang. But despite “fussy” having a negative connotation, I think it’s just fine to be fussy. Based on the way I see people dress (and behave) these days, I wish more folks would be a little bit more “fussy.” Carol in VT

    1. I grew up in Massachusetts, my Mom was Canadian, Dad from Mass. and we said “down cellar” too. Hadn’t thought about that for years!

    2. “Down cellar” is still used in New Brunswick. For those of us who grew up in old houses with basements which were actually cellars. My husband used to laugh at me when he and I first lived together, and I would forget and call our finished rec room in the basement…”down cellar.”

  15. I’m surprised you’re having trouble finding jeans with a 32″ inseam. It seems like every pair of jeans I’ve bought in recent years has a 32″ inseam. Since I need a 30″ inseam I always need to have my jeans shortened.

  16. This was a very thoughtful post. It did make me think about language and how words can have different meanings to all of us. I never thought too much about the word fussy but yes it can have two different meanings. I always thought of fussy and someone who was particular about either their looks or their surroundings. But fussy can also mean to me frilly or extremely feminine looking. As in clothing. Now I’m going to notice what other meanings words can have and maybe go down that rabbit whole!!
    Also I just love the color or that coat and scarf on you!!

  17. My British mother was (in)famous for saying things that either inadvertently shocked or caused hilarity such as:
    Asking a high ranking military officer who was an overnight guest in our home “what time he wished to be knocked up?”
    Or at a military event held at a Florida resort (during spring break), where she turned to a General as they stood overlooking a pool area packed with scantily clad coeds–“Have you ever seen so much beefcake and cheesecake in one location?”
    Telling my sons when they were very young to “leave Willy alone” (a cause of much laughter in our house when the movie Free Willy came out).
    Calling the fluffy Sherpa seat belt covers in my car pussies and calling out in her impeccable British accent, “Where’s pussy?” whenever she got in my car and tried to reach around for her seat belt.
    And then there is my youngest son, who when he was four years old and trying to put together a multi-part toy asked, “Where are the constructions?” We’ve been using that word rather than instructions for the past 38 years. 🙂

  18. Have to agree with Sara about ‘gifted’…its soo ‘cringe-y’ (hate that one too) ‘He gifted me that book’ I am not sure if people even realize how pretentious it sounds. How about the adding of ‘y’ to the end of a word? The afore mentioned ‘cringe’y’ or favourite amongst bloggers…’spend-y’. Sorry. Infantile.
    What about ‘worthy’? Swoon worthy, cringe worthy,. Splurge worthy.blech Then the very contentious use ‘high tea’ when incorrectly referring to afternoon tea. WRONG. High tea is more of a supper meal not the fancy tea and cake taken on delicate china. That’s just afternoon tea…I think some folks feel adding ‘high’ sounds posh. Makes me wonder if they are serving cannabis sweets;) on bone china!!! In hospital we use fussy a LOT..fussy tummy, leg is fussy, arm is fussy…ha patient is fussy!.
    Mr. X is a bit fussy today…or the doctor pushes on your gut and you react negatively “It’s feeling fussy, is it?” It s not really pejorative as in ‘she’s a fussy old lady’ just more to indicate that something is not the way it should be.

    1. I must say that I think a few of those restaurants who try to be posh and serve afternoon tea must take some of the blame for the confusion. Too many label what they serve as “high tea.”
      I remember when Stu and I were in New Zealand the first time, and we’d checked into our accommodation around 5:00 in the afternoon, the lady at the desk asked in a very friendly manner, “So what will you be doing for your tea?” Stu was a bit flummoxed by that, thinking she was asking how he took his tea, maybe as info for how to serve our breakfast. I had to whisper to him that I thought she meant our supper. And so she did because when I said we’d no plans she reeled off a host of recommendations for our evening meal.

  19. Such a fun post! I love language, how it evolves (or devolves), the idioms of different geographical areas and different languages (just last night I learned that “planting a tree” is a Spanish phrase for using the toilet?!?). Please feel free to go down this rabbit hole any time!

  20. I just typed a comment…hit enter and the stupid website thinks I am a bot so it did not publish
    I buy LandsEnd jeans in Tall. Pre-covid Tall was a choice of a 32 or 34 inseam….now just a 34. LandsEnd will hem for you but I order the 34 and hem them myself since the 34 would only be good with heels and the 32 with the “flats” that I usually wear with jeans. I just ordered the dark wash…..Spring Summer with have mid-blue, light blue and white. They have a couple of styles but what I bought was “straight”. They sell out fast but they restock. Get on their email and they often send discount codes

    1. Sorry about that Lauren. I don’t have control over how the site that hosts my blog interacts with commenters. They’ve been changing up their spam protection.

  21. Hi Sue,
    Thanks for the link to the Zara jeans.
    My new Mavi jeans are not quite as comfortable as I thought. On a recent flight I fussed 😉 all the way home!
    Fussy, fussing are words I would hear and have many meanings. Some were backhanded compliments. Such interesting and enjoyable comments to read. ☕️
    Having a Welsh grandmother I wish I wrote down all her expressions. From the colour of the sky, bubbles in her teacup to when a picture dropped. At her 100th bday and experiencing memory problems those expressions were not lost. She charmed the crowd!

  22. Margaretanne Clinton

    Sue ,
    Oh. From now on I’m saying ,”the McCarty slant. “!!
    Really , really funny story. !!
    When someone asks what that is ,straight faced ,I’ll explain it exactly as you did.

  23. I’m a Miss Maloprop, so my husband and I often have language discussions that start with my misuse of a word. As a technical writer and member of a documentation team, I’ve had many work discussions about the wording of something or use of terminology.
    I think that “fussy” or “fuss” has several connotations, depending on the context. A boss saying that someone fussed over something, well that seems pretty clear to me (don’t make such a fuss) and I don’t get a positive vibe from it. An outfit can be too fussy (overly prim and proper or overly detailed in ornamentation). Your explanation of how you were trying to balance your outfit makes sense, but I’ve been reading about the style you are trying to achieve for a while and think that I get it. 🙂
    I’m looking forward to more images of your new jeans. Glad that you found them.

    1. Yes… you’re right. Those are the various definitions I found when I looked in the dictionary. But I love to hear a the various other nuanced definitions of words. I still think that ladylike can be described as fussy… in some contexts.

  24. I faithfully read your blog and today I had to comment😊. I have recently been doing a Bible study and the presenter had us underline and define the word
    “Know” while reading the text. Made me stop and think; familiar, knowledge, or something else. In my opinion, the English language is so confusing 😊

    My grandmother taught me a recipe and the instructions included, “it is ready when the syrup spins a thread!” How many know that term?
    Thanks for the good messages😊

    1. I have some of those recipes, Jes. Like “cook in a hot oven” … thank goodness my mum was around to answer questions. But the syrup spinning a thread is almost poetic, isn’t it?

  25. Absolutely loved this post! I’ll now be referencing’The McCarty’ slant in Australia! I’m sure this will spread…worldwide!

  26. When I met my husband, I laughed when he referred to his winter hat as a toboggan … I always thought a toboggan was a sled! His family is from the south (US) so not sure if that is where the term originated but I love it.

    Completely off subject … I’ve noticed in this post and previous one how beautiful your skin is! Just lovely!

  27. Michelle Hamric

    When my great grandmother visited our home, she always would check to see if my mom’s plants were damp or dry. If they were dry, she would say to my mom, “These are dry as bug dust!”

  28. In Northern Ontario, I first heard a woman say “I’m not fussy about that”. I had no idea what she meant (I’m from Toronto, or “down east” as they say in the north). I’m not fussy about that means you don’t like something. It’s usually said about food. Go figure.

    1. We said that growing up, Catherine. Down in the real down east. Ha. I never thought about it, but it is a weird usage, totally the opposite of the other meanings.

  29. Another interesting topic to discuss for hours about. There are so many sides to look upon words and expressions. It’s the most difficult thing talking in a foreign language, the feeling to use the correct words. I remember a dialogue with my English friend Lisa about the backside of churches😂. And it is not easier in my mother tongue, or dialect. When I was a child Viennese language contained a lot of words of Jewish or Roma origin, there was a huge community in former times. And these words are no longer common among the younger generations. My mother often used such words, she was not Jewish, for her it was self evident. Nowadays there are dictionaries with lost words, young people learning the words of my childhood like a foreign language.
    You are right, language is a complicated and important issue. Resulting are so many misunderstandings often not funny ones like backsides.

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