A Word In Your Shell-Like*

4 Mar

*For those who don’t know British idioms, ‘shell-like’ refers to the ear.  Some Brits are too lazy to finish their sentences with a three-letter word.

Words have a power all their own

Words have a power all their own (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)

Today’s post is about words.


One of my 101/1001 challenges is to find 26 words – one for each letter of the alphabet – which are new to me; and then to use them in 26 consecutive posts (jokes excluded).  You may find me a little ambisinister in the execution, but that’s just the way it goes.  See if you can guess what today’s word is.


Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl) Or in your online dictionary…


The reason today’s post is about words is that I suddenly find myself unable to pronounce ‘laptop’.  I keep saying ‘loptop’.  I have no idea why, though I suspect it may be a divine slap on the wrist for last week’s post in which I wrote:

  • If you mispronounce a word in my presence, I will not hear anything you say after that.

The Hub can’t pronounce ‘hilarious’ without falling over his tongue and my friend told me this morning she can’t pronounce ‘proselytise’ (although, let’s be honest – who can?).

What words can you not pronounce?


This is for the writers amongst you, but more on that later.

I just looked up among/amongst because I was pretty sure I had used it correctly but I wanted to know the difference.  Turns out I’m ‘quaint’.

Maeve Maddox at Daily Writing Tips says:

I first heard amongst used when I went to live in England. To my ear it sounds quaint and very “British.”  I especially like it in the expression “to put the cat amongst the pigeons.”

She goes on to asseverate:

If there ever was a difference between the two words, it is lost now […] For American speakers of English, the question is irrelevant. Americans say among.

I hope that British speakers will continue to use amongst whenever they feel like it.

Thank you, Maeve.  We will. 🙂

So this is what he learned at that internet ma...

So this is what he learned at that internet marketing seminar (Photo credit: Graela)


This is for the writers amongst you, but you have to live in Britain and use the word ‘amongst’ without blushing:

Arvon is running a competition; the prize is a free residential course.  

Click this link and go to page 130 of the brochure for details.


Time for an experiment: I included the cartoon because it amused me, but I think I’m going to try adding ‘boobies’ to my tags to see if there’s any truth in its assertion.  I’ll let you know if it works.  


That’s it.  I’ve run out of words.

47 Responses to “A Word In Your Shell-Like*”

  1. mairedubhtx March 4, 2013 at 14:00 #

    It’s true. Americans NEVER use amongst. Not in our vocabulary.


  2. granny1947 March 4, 2013 at 14:38 #

    There is a word I can never pronounce.
    Right now, I can’t remember what it is!


  3. laurieanichols March 4, 2013 at 15:24 #

    There are many words that I can’t say when I’m tired. I alert the media and people stop expecting me to answer them because I can no longer speak anything else aside from gibberish. I am the expert in gibberish. I can’t say the name Rory without laughing, it has to do with the r’s and the French way of saying it. If you were able to get inside my mind then everything in there is well pronounced and articulated, something happens on the way down to my mouth that gums it all up.:)


  4. vivinfrance March 4, 2013 at 15:26 #

    A post after my own heart – you know what a word nerd I am. BTW boobies as in idiots? Or boobies as in lactating appendages, which I always call boobs?


  5. terry1954 March 4, 2013 at 15:41 #

    I like knowing what words mean in other countries. I now know about shell-like. Thanks that was fun!


  6. jmgoyder March 4, 2013 at 15:46 #

    Keep going with this – it’s great!


  7. slpmartin March 4, 2013 at 15:49 #

    Sorry, some American do use “amongst”…it fits nicely into some poems..well it may also serve to date us. 🙂


  8. bevchen March 4, 2013 at 16:01 #

    For some reason, lop top made me think of rabbits. Why? No idea!

    My step-mum could never pronounce the word anemone.

    I’ve had to learn not to use amongst when translating into American English.


    • The Laughing Housewife March 4, 2013 at 22:42 #

      Anemone! That catches out a lot of people.

      Isn’t there a lop-eared rabbit? Or maybe that’s a cliche?

      Translations – a whole other world of word problems 🙂


  9. momopolize March 4, 2013 at 16:05 #

    I always hate the way I say “antibiotic.”

    And I occasionally use amongst here in the U S of A. I just like the word. I like the word quaint also. Maybe I should move to England. Shell-like though…not so sure about that one. 😀


  10. Elaine - I used to be indecisive March 4, 2013 at 18:14 #

    I use the word ‘amongst’ quite often, so I am pleased to be doing my bit for British English!
    I know there is a word I keep pronouncing incorrectly every time I start to use it, but the trouble is that I can’t remember what it is!


  11. Three Well Beings March 4, 2013 at 18:24 #

    I loved this post! I like to think I NEVER misuse or mispronounce a word, but that’s probably not true. It so irritates me to hear words routinely mispronounced and I am never quite sure what to do about it. If I thought I was honestly concerned with the other person’s reputation, I could be more assertive, but it’s probably unkind to make the correction simply because I’m irritated. A coworker commonly says she made a “foo pas”–not “faux pas” and I cannot for the life of me understand why someone would employ foreign phrases if they aren’t absolutely positive they are speaking correctly! And I do use “amongst” more than perhaps necessary…but I am archaic, too! 🙂


  12. Pseu March 4, 2013 at 18:29 #

    I agree with amongst being very English.
    I have been told that whilst is archaic, but I use it all the time – it probably falls into the same trap.

    Tintinnabulation. Can’t say – I trip over the second tin. There are many more. (But I can’t think what until I’m about to use them….)


    • The Laughing Housewife March 4, 2013 at 22:45 #

      Fortunately, it can’t come up that often in conversation…can it?

      I struggle with while/whilst. Never thought to check that; I will.


      • Pseu March 4, 2013 at 23:35 #

        Whilst you do so…. I shall play scrabble.


  13. adinparadise March 4, 2013 at 18:33 #

    LOL @ the boobies. 😆 I can think of a few tag words which would pull in the readers.
    I do love English to be correctly spoken, and love the word amongst, even if it sounds archaic. Can’t think offhand of a word I mispronounce, but when I was a child I used to say sinderwill for windowsill, and robin restbread. 🙂


  14. Maddie Cochere March 4, 2013 at 21:02 #

    I like “amongst,” too, and I LOL’d and scared the dog when I saw your boobies in the tags. 😉


    • The Laughing Housewife March 4, 2013 at 22:48 #

      Now there’s a phrase I never expected to read – ‘your boobies in the tags’. Had me laughing aloud, too 😀


  15. typewriterpoet March 4, 2013 at 21:24 #

    i always use amongst but feel rather old fashioned when i do and American at that. i do hope the boobies tag goes well i can think of many posts worthy of it in my writings lol! this was a treat to read glad i found it.


    • The Laughing Housewife March 4, 2013 at 22:53 #

      Thanks for your comment and for following.

      Do you mind if I ask how you found me?

      If you like funny tags – or funny posts, for that matter – you should read Tinman.


  16. Tom (Aquatom1968) March 4, 2013 at 21:49 #

    I use the word amongst on occasion, Tilly, but I can’t even read that word that your friend says she can’t pronounce. How are your boobies doing?


    • The Laughing Housewife March 4, 2013 at 22:54 #

      Not one search that I can see 😦 Most disappointed. I guess it’s back to the underarm hair for me.


  17. Harry Nicholson March 4, 2013 at 23:29 #

    Complaint: I was drawn here by ‘boobies’ but find naught of interest to an ornithologist.


  18. benzeknees March 5, 2013 at 05:59 #

    I noticed your A words – very good & unusual ones too! I’m not afraid to use amongst unluckily I don’t live in Britain!


  19. lanceleuven March 5, 2013 at 14:15 #

    Well, I’ve learnt three things while here today. For a start, I didn’t know what shell-like meant. Is that bad for a Brit? Or am I just stupid? (That was a rhetorical question! :-)). I also didn’t know the difference between among and amongst. And I also learnt that I need to start tagging my blog posts with the tag ‘free money’.


  20. bluebee March 5, 2013 at 21:11 #

    Yes, I reckon “boobies” will get you more hits than “ambisinister” or “asseverate”.
    *shuffling through dictionary*
    I can’t say patented, so I don’t.


  21. bluebee March 5, 2013 at 21:13 #

    The “Like” button isn’t working on WordPress today for some reason and I just unfollowed you by mistake. Maybe I should just go back to bed.


  22. wavensongz March 9, 2013 at 04:22 #

    I just stopped by to see what you were up to. I have No Words, LOL, I Think You said it all. As always Well Done. 😀


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