July 26. The word is akimbo.

This word always makes me think of newborn foals and calves, all leggy and staggering around looking for their mothers. It’s such an awkward-sounding word that it projects an impression of clumsy, limb-unsteady staggering.

I feel that way despite knowing it means NOTHING like that. What does it mean?  Rather than make anyone look it up, here’s a paraphrasing:

Akimbo  is the particular word for “standing with your hands on your hips and your elbows turned out”, aka the” disapproving parent” pose or the “proud as a peacock” pose, or many others I suppose, depending on the angle of the chin, facial expression and other subtleties not covered by the akimbo part.

So…not necessarily clumsy at all.

It falls into the category of “words people use in writing but rarely say out loud.” Have you ever heard anyone use it in conversation. I have not, and that’s saying something, coming from someone who regularly throws around terms like electrophoresis, diacritic and animated.

Clamber is another one of those “have I ever heard that?” words. When does one have reason to talk about clambering up or down something? Can you think of any more words like that? We could start a list.

That category is distinct from “words not used as expected.”  I’ve been reading a lot of romance lately, and I confess I am more than a little tired of winging elbows, speared hair, raked skin, and plundered body parts of all kinds.

I should probably start a list of my least-favorite overused phrases too. Just for jollies.


word provided by Lynda Allison

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