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Today's Word



Feb 10, 2020
This week’s theme
Words that appear dirty, but aren’t

This week’s words

Previous week’s theme
Well-traveled words
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with Anu Garg

Dirty words can be fun. Even more fun are words that appear dirty, but aren’t. That’s what we’re going to feature this week. We start off relatively clean and as the week progresses, we’re going to ratchet up the dirtitude. Irrespective of what they look like, all are perfectly innocent little words.

You may hesitate to say these words aloud in polite company, but why not have a little fun anyway? Bring out your inner (junior high) kid. Take inspiration from the usage example for today’s word.

Remember, just like these words, you have a spotless mind. It’s only the person you’re talking to who thinks dirty. Why else would they misinterpret these immaculate words?

NOTE: If you don’t receive one or more issues of A.Word.A.Day this week, it’s probably the email filter at your work or school, performing its nannying duties in earnest. Don’t be mad at the email filter -- it’s only trying to protect your innocence. You can always read any missing issues online.



verb tr., intr.: To interlock like the fingers of two hands.

From Latin inter- (between, together) + digitus (finger, toe). Ultimately from the Indo-European root deik- (to show, to pronounce solemnly), which also gave us judge, verdict, vendetta, revenge, indicate, dictate, paradigm, diktat, dictatress, dittohead, fatidic, hoosegow, and interdict. Earliest documented use: 1847.

To interdigitate is to hold hands together. Also, to hold toes of two feet together. Also, hand and foot. Also, hand and paw. Or foot and paw. Think of other combinations. Show us what you come up with. Write to us at words@wordsmith.org.

“‘Oh, by the way, do you only interdigitate once a day?’

“She stopped and looked up at me. She was mentally replaying what I had just said to her. ‘What did you say?’ she said indignantly -- wondering if I just had been incredibly rude to her. She was getting ready to be really ticked off. Short fuse was a side to Mia I had only guessed at.

“‘I asked you if you only interdigitate once a day?’ I replied innocently working hard to keep the grin off my face. She obviously did not know what the hell I was talking about, but she was not ready to let me know it. I started walking again. She stood still for a moment and then scurried up beside me. We walked for another few yards before I asked again.

“She hesitated and then grudgingly -- as if she had committed some major sin -- quietly replied, ‘No, I’ve not set any limit on that. Should I?’

“‘Oh no,’ I replied, ‘I kind of enjoyed holding your hand earlier, but when you didn’t take mine a minute or so ago, I wasn’t sure if you had set some sort of personal daily limit.’

“She started to giggle and then punched my shoulder -- hard. ‘You are truly nuts -- one of your oars is clearly out of the water -- and that’s a fact.’ And she took my hand. ‘Where did you get that word? What was it?’

“‘Interdigitate,’ I replied. ‘The first time I heard the word was when a kid in my Sex-Ed class -- his name was Jerry Piels, I think -- asked our female Sex-Ed teacher if she thought interdigitation before marriage was morally wrong.”
Al Rennie; Clearwater Journals; Smashwords; 2011.

“So the days would have passed, literary labour interdigitating with agricultural.”
V.S. Naipaul; The Mimic Men; Andre Deutsch; 1967.

I see too plainly custom forms us all. Our thoughts, our morals, our most fixed belief, are consequences of our place of birth. -Aaron Hill, dramatist and writer (10 Feb 1685-1750)

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