The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Inheriting Words


Do you have any words you use that you learned from a grandmother or family member that you do not hear from anyone else and cannot be easily defined, but have become a part of your vocabulary? My mother-in-law would turn up her nose and warn my kids that something was ‘batchy’. It meant that it was dirty or smelly or undesirable in some way. I never asked her where the word came from or the definition. I assumed that it was a word from her Irish heritage like her superstition about putting coins on the windowsills on New Year’s Eve.

I googled ‘batchy’ and found a definition on Urban Dictionary┬ámeaning something was high quality which didn’t define my word.┬áThen I opened another website of questions and answers about the English language. A woman said her grandmother used this word to mean something kids wouldn’t like or appreciate. So that was closer to to my mother-in-law’s use.

‘Batchy’ is part of my vocabulary now to carry on. I could make up my own unique word and begin to infuse it into my grandchildren’s language. Someday they might also be asking these same questions. Where did the word come from and what does it mean?

There are lists of words in the links below that have no translation to English, but we would benefit from having just that one word which could say it all. Have you ever known anyone who seemed to take joy from another person’s misery? I have. There is ‘schadenfreude’ in German to describe such a person. There is ‘saudade’ in Portugese to describe a feeling of love or longing for something lost. It could be used to describe music or art or people. It is just one word that you could utter and others would immediately understand you. But in English, we must use sentences to describe that feeling and even then not be understood.




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