Tuesday, November 16, 2010

British Word of the Day

pernickety [pəˈnɪkɪtɪ] US, persnickety adj Informal
1. excessively precise and attentive to detail; fussy
2. (of a task) requiring close attention; exacting
[originally Scottish, of unknown origin]

Sister Thompson was notorious for her ill-temper and pernickety ways...

I wasn't sure this counted as a 'Brit word', wondering if retro Harlequin had committed a typo. But no, the interwebnets decreed otherwise. Just N, no S. Got it.

I am so tempted to begin using it but Mijnheer van Vorhees is already a little creeped out when I call rain boots 'wellies' so I think I've exceeded my eccentric Brit-speak quota for the year. (Naturally, his eight years at a Canadian company mean that PRO-cess and PRO-gress have passed under our familial limbo stick but one too many trips to the loo and suddenly we've got a federal case on our hands...)


  1. I've participated in an online theology forum for years and this (these?) words have generated MUCH ongoing discussion and fun. :)

    I love words. I love collecting words. Part of the fun of reading Betty (And Essie, for that matter, and Essie even moreso) is being exposed to new words - or "old" words with different usage. Love it!


  2. Betty Barbara here--
    I'll share our two favorite Aussie pronunciations--one quite common, one that we only heard once; both heard from TV broadcasters.
    The common one, heard mostly from sports announcers; debut==de Boo. So and so made his debut(deBoo) with such and so team. Heard that one quite a lot.
    But our all time favorite we heard exactly once, on a news broadcast. Patio==pay-she-oh.
    Yep. Don't know how he came up with that one, as I heard many an Aussie pronounce patio just as we would==pat-ee-oh.

  3. I wonder if that was a bit of a Ron Burgundy moment--just reading letters as they come off the teleprompter...

    I really want to start saying it that way though!

  4. BettyMMK, my teen reader, reads a lot of historicals and I loved how she pronounces some of the strange words and names. When your only interaction with a word is in written form, I think it changes how you perceive it.
    The husband of friend must never had seen this particular vegetable spelled out, when he was sorting in wife's hoard of extra food - think Year 2000. He came to her and said what is this ASS PER AG US, stuff. She could hardly speak for laughing so hard, but she finally croaked out asparagus. Boy was he embarrassed.
    The kids at school use a math program named Mr. Nussbaum, but one of the kids insists it's pronounced Numb Bus. Nothing I can say convinces him different. ha ha ha Betty Mary

  5. I use this word! But then again, I am sorta well known for the words I do, and more importantly, don't use.

  6. OH! Years ago a friend and her young son went with my husband and our young son and I to a gorgeous state park (World's End for those who know North Eastern PA)to enjoy the fall foliage. As we were heading up into the mountains, she sighed and said, "It's such a picture-skew day!" It took me a moment or two to sort it out and when I realized it was "picturesque," it was all I could do to keep from laughing. She was/is a person with very low self-esteem so laughing would not have done At All. But I remember it ALWAYS!