Monthly Archives: February 2014

Titivate — look sharp now


Titivate is the word today.  I got this one from one of the Words By Bob readers.  She said the word was used in a television.    She thinks it was used incorrectly, and the interviewer was looking for the word tittilate.

Here are some definitions of titivate:

To make small improvements or alteration  to (one’s appearance etc.)

to add some finishing touches to.

to make smart or spruce

Synonyms for titivate include beautify, deck out, embellish, gussy up, prettify, smarten and spiff up

The word comes from a modification of earlier spelling– tidivate .  It may come from the word tidy  and-vate.  Some suggest it follows the pattern of words like cultivate and renovate

Alternate spellings are tidivate, tiddivate or tittivate

Lemniscate — it just keeps going

Lemniscate is not a term most of us use but we have seen the figure the term represents.


A lemniscate is a figure-eight shaped curve.  Many, like me, refer to it as the infinity symbol.

The label lemniscate makes sence because it comes from the Latin word lemniscatus—meaning decorated with ribbons.  This in turn relates to the Greek Island of Lemnos.  On this island, ribbons were worn as decorations.   Some think the word derives from the wool that the ribbons were made of.
The first usage of the word leminscate was in about 1781.

New Latin lemniscata, from feminine of Latin lemniscatus with hanging ribbons, from lemniscus

Carhawk — what is it?

carhawk_definitionCarhawk or car-hawk is the word for today.

This word comes to me because I heard it talked about  on a podcast I listened to yesterday called A Way With Words.  If you are into words–a word nerd–like I am, I suggest you give it a listen.

The other factor that made carhawk relevant is that it has snowed here in Colorado every day for the past few days.  Additionally, the temperature has been below zero when we wake up in the morning.

Carhawk is a play on words for the term Mohawk–as in Mohawk haircut.  As you may know, this Native American-style haircut is basically a strip of hair down the middle of the head, with the rest shaved.

It refers to how your car looks after you wipe the snow from the windshield.  On some cars, like my van, it is next to impossible to reach the center of the glass.

This strip of snow that remains is a carhawk.

I submit that it could also be called a snowhawk.