Total wordy geek-fest!


Now is it just me that thinks this is just brilliant?



Ok, I’ll explain – this little tool, from Google, searches books in any time period you choose, and displays usage as a graph so that you can see when it has most references. I would say this is pretty accurate (I can’t see why it wouldn’t be) and it’s certainly fun (for a word-geek like me. Word).

In fact the minute I was faced with this tool my mind went blank – I could search for any word I wanted, and couldn’t think of any for a moment. Then they came in. I started off with the word contemn, which is found throughout the King James Bible.

contemn dictionary.jpg

Then on to another – how about demirep?


W00T! What does demirep mean? Well has a very unsatisfactory definition, so from my 1923 Nuttall’s etymological dictionary we have:

‘a woman of suspicious chastity’ (demi-reputation)

And then of course, how about obscurantist?


Haha! What is an obscurantist?


This could describe many things, people and organisations today! Just look at the government and their statutes written in legalese! Most certainly hiding knowledge from people and evading clarity. Another fascinating word!

So now – go and have fun, (Link: and please tweet your charts to me over at @Glorious_voice – I can’t wait to see what you search for!

Best wishes

Lis Goodwin – your voice coach


WARNING: Jus de raisin!

Now I know that the younger audience can only dream of the day they get to drink wine, being far too young to imbibe the grape just yet. But as a neat lesson in French this sign took me only a moment with my appalling fail-level French to decipher.


Yes – it’s grape juice on the road! Yes – it’s grape harvesting time, and indeed the danger of slipping on grape juice on French roads must be at an all time high! It certinly amused me, even if it has a serious note. But, you may wonder, why is the word raisin and not grape? Raisins are those dried things, aren’t they?

Well the origin of the word raisin has a botanical root. It comes from the word raceme. Excuse me *adjusts* I’m going to geek out now (being a former horticulturalist).


So, what’s a raceme, Lis? Well I’m glad you asked!

A raceme is a flower form (inflorescence) where the flowers are on short stems (pedicels) from the main stem – like so:



Are you excited? I know I am. πŸ™‚

Now, you might ask, where did the word ‘raceme’ come from? Well, in typical language circular logic it goes right back to…


A cluster of grapes. So grape is raisin because it’s a raceme, which is called a raceme because it’s a bunch of grapes. Did you get that? Good – there’ll be a short test later. πŸ˜‰

Oh and I have to add a real What the…? moment. Take a look at the two dictionary definitions. First one claims raisin’s origin is raceme, from 1350’s, and the second one claims the origin of raceme is 1775. Excuse me? πŸ™‚

Best wishes

Lis Goodwin – your voice coach

What does the word ‘pacific’ mean?

I used the word ‘Pacific’ today – yes because I was talking about the Pacific Ocean, and I thought immediately that we really never use the word these days for anything else. Yet the word pacific has meaning! Here it is:


So are you a ‘pacific’ kind of person? Shall we see if we can use the word a little more often? πŸ™‚

Best wishes

Lis Goodwin – your voice coach

It’s complicated!

Yes, and often awkward, and all those sorts of things – when we use the word ‘complicated’ today, we are often referring to relationship status. In fact the word complicated rarely means anything nice, does it? Complications after an operation – woah, that’s never good!

Yet when we think about knitting a Fairisle jumper – well, it’s complicated (and beautiful).

fairisle sweaters.jpg

Complicated doesn’t have to be bad, and in fact the word origin is really interesting:


Moreover this term leads us into the world of biology:

complicate 2

and the botanical term ‘plicate’ also has its origin here:


Wanna see what a ‘plicate’ leaf looks like? Do ya?

plicate 2.jpg

Palm fronds are plicate.

So the word ‘complicated’ needn’t mean bad things, it can lead to Fairisle sweaters and Date Palms!

I hope you enjoyed this journey through the word ‘complicated.’

Best wishes

Lis Goodwin – your voice coach

The answer to yesterday’s tongue-twister conundrum

What did the writer mean?

Yesterday I wrote a post containing the Tuesday Tongue_Twister, and yet there was an issue! A question! Eeek!

β€œShe sat upon a balcony, inimicably mimicking him hiccuping and amicably welcoming him in.”

So what’s the problem here? Well, inimicably isn’t a word! *shrieks*

I know!

Calm down.

First of all, when I searched I got this:whoop.jpg

So what do the two most likely words (inimitably and inimical) actually mean, and do either of them fit the context of the tongue-twister?


Well, she can’t be mimicking him inimitably – that doesn’t work.


Uhm, well…. how about she’s mimicking him in a hostile way, and then ‘amicably welcoming him in.’ – well, frankly that doesn’t work much better, does it?

Ah, well, it just shows you that words are fascinating, and we often use them wrongly – get to know and love your dictionary, whether paper or online, because we all need to use them! In fact if you’re going to read anything challenging, you will certainly need to use one.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little sojourn into the dictionary to sort out whether maybe the writer meant this or maybe the writer meant that. If you have any ideas for re-writing the writers tongue-twister, please leave a well-written comment in the writing box below. Or something….

Best wishes

Lis Goodwin, your voice coach


“Oh, Quinoa, my dear,” – don’t you think it would make a lovely name for a posh young thing? I do πŸ˜‰

Oh yes, I just had to comment on the quinoa pronunciation issue – is it “keen-wah” or “quin-o-ah”?

In Peru, it’s keen-wah – this doesn’t seem to be in dispute, but I take issue with the excessive reverence for this pronunciation of the name of this crop. Why?

Well, last time I checked, you went to Germany on that business trip, and not Deutschland. You went to Greece for a holiday not Hellas! So why this special reverence for keen-wah?

It’s quin-o-ah all the way for me!

What do you think? Should we start calling each country by the name its inhabitants call it, or will quin-o-ah do for you too? Share your musings below in the comments!

Best wishes

Lis Goodwin, your voice coach

Tuesday Tongue-Twister

This one is an absolute corker! Whoever wrote it wanted to test the most ardent person for whom English is their second language. Goodness, every confusing little quirk of the English language can be summed up quite neatly by this gem – enjoy!

A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.

I hope you enjoyed that! Do you have a favourite tongue-twister you’d like to share? Do share it in the comments below!

Best wishes

Lis Goodwin – your voice coach