Monday, October 22, 2007

Don't be a cunctator; come to the spelling bee

At a recent spelling bee, contestants were asked to spell words from Butt Rot and Bottom Gas: A Glossary of Tragically Misunderstood Words.

From the cover:
The English language is full of words that sound obscene but aren't. Terms like arsole (an organic chemical compound) and crack spread (a calculation showing theoretical market values of petroleum). Words like cunctator (a person who procrastinates, delays, or wastes time) and spotted dick (a traditional English dessert made with hot, thick custard).

Seventh-grade language arts teacher Eric Groves Sr. has spent years listening to his students giggle after he used words like thespian, coccyx, and masticate. Now he has compiled hundreds of these foul-sounding terms into a delightfully innocent dictionary, complete with illustrated definitions of their true meanings. From air cock (a valve on a boiler) and bushmaster (a large venomous snake) to cummingtonite (a mineral) and beyond, Butt Rot and Bottom Gas is a wonderful reference for word lovers and the snickering seventh grader in all of us.
I did, in fact, ask someone at the bee to spell cummingtonite. And she got it right! The "adult spelling bee" is finally ... "adult."

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