This is an extremely fun word to say, and besides that, it's fairly useful. A kerfuffle is a disturbance or disagreement, often within an organization. Whenever a kerfuffle happens, there are bound to be misunderstandings, accusations, and defensiveness.
One definition I looked at said that a kerfuffle is smaller than a contretemps, larger than a snag, and involved more people than a SNAFU or a stink.
The word comes from the Scottish Gaelic word cearr, which means "wrong" or "awkward" and fuffle, which means to become disheveled. The first known use was in 1946.
|Unholy Matrimony (1821), by Thomas Rowlandson|
The original meaning of virago was a woman who was strong, brave, and warlike. This was a very good meaning, I think, but now the word is used in a totally different way. If you call a woman a virago these days, you mean that she is loud and bad-tempered, a scold, and a shrew.
People who are abstemious are very moderate in what they eat and drink. They do not indulge themselves in anything, really, and they are especially sparing in their diet.
You might think that the word abstemious is related to the word abstain, but the only thing the two words share is the abs- prefix. The second part of the word, -temious comes from the Latin temetum, which means "intoxicating drink." So the original use of abstemious was to describe a person who stayed away from alcohol.
|The troglodyte city of Khyunglung was the capital|
of the ancient Shangshung Kingdom in Western Tibet.
Troglodytes were ancient peoples who lived in caves. Nowadays, most people live in regular houses, so troglodyte is used to describe someone who has outdated ideas and maybe even lives all alone, away from society. You can also call a person a troglodyte if you think he or she is a brute.
An animal that lives underground can also be a troglodyte. I think this is a strange use for the word, though, because lots of animals live underground in burrows. Would you call a prairie dog a troglodyte? That just seems silly!
People are always telling other people "Don't take any wooden nickels!" So I got to wondering where this phrase came from. Of course, it's clear that if someone gives you a nickel that is made of wood instead of metal, it is worthless because you can't spend it. But why would anybody even think there might be nickels out there that are made of wood?
Well, it turns out that during the 1930s, when the Great Depression was happening, some banks and chambers of commerce issued wooden nickels to help merchants make change. These wooden nickels had expiration dates, so you had to turn them back in before that date. Otherwise you lost your five cents, which would not be a big deal nowadays, but in the 1930s, you could actually buy something with that amount.
|1934 Chicago World's Fair|
There is another type of wooden nickel that is used to commemorate or promote some special event. This sort of nickel was mentioned in print as early as 1888. Wooden nickels like this are very collectible, especially for people who do geocaching. So if you're into this sort of thing, it would actually be good to take wooden nickels, because that is the whole point!