Tag Archives: summer

Tomfoolery

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Tomfoolery \ˌtäm-ˈfül-rē, -ˈfü-lə-\

noun: playful or foolish behavior

When I was college, my roommate and I became slightly obsessed with this word. She saw it in a movie at some point–for the life of me, I don’t know which one–and we decided that we should start each and every day by leaping out of bed and asking each other: “What sort of tomfoolery should we get into today?”

Sadly, this never actually happened. But! It could have.

So obviously, that’s one way to use tomfoolery. Here are a few more:

Their  tomfoolery finally reached such heights that I had to coax Raul off the roof with a sandwich, for fear he’d hurt himself. The things my husband will do for a sandwich…

or:

Lisa had never liked clowns. Which is why, I suppose, she decided it would be a good idea to stand up in the middle of their performance and shout “I hate this stupid tomfoolery!” It’s just so unfortunate she happened to do this right as they started throwing the cream pies…

or:

I’ve never understood why pool signs say “No running, no diving.” Why don’t they just say “No tomfoolery,” and be done with it?

Be careful how you use it, though; the word tomfoolery is pretty new, with a first usage around 1812, but the person form, tomfool, dates from the 1640s, and derives from the 14h century Middle English term Thom Foole, meaning an insane person. Not exactly PC.

Buuuut I’m guessing that since no one really knows that part, you can feel free to start calling your friends tomfools with no repercussions.

In any case, let the tomfoolery begin!

Swelter

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Swelter \ˈswel-tər\

1: (verb) to suffer, sweat, or be faint from heat

2: (noun) a state of oppressive heat

Coming off the heels of what was supposed to be the hottest day of Oregon’s summer yesterday, I couldn’t think of a better word than swelter to initiate this new blog. In particular, I like the noun form, which sees use much less frequently than its verb twin. But just imagine the possibilities of the noun swelter in your daily conversation!

You’ll often hear the verb form this way:

“It’s sweltering outside! I guess this is where all that global warming stuff comes from, huh?”

But how much better is it to see the noun form, like this:

The summer swelter was oppressive to Blaire, who wanted nothing more than to step outside without drowning in his own sweat.

Or, even better, like this:

The swelter of his gaze could have melted ice–or, in any case, made it dribble a little. I wanted nothing more than to talk to him, and I would have–had I not been wearing nothing but a clown wig and bikini.

And where did this wonderful word come from? It’s been in the English language since the 1400s, and comes from Old English sweltan, to die; that, in turn, came from the Proto-Germanic swel, to burn slowly.

Well that’s graphic.

So please, no more “This heat is killing me!” Who needs it, when you can say, essentially, “This heat is burning me slowly to death!” In other words–“This heat is sweltering!