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Pamplemousse: an Appreciation of Juicy Words


Just finished rereading Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror” and found an ancient but stupefyingly cool-sounding and yet eerily useful word:

Usufruct. Basically, the right to use someone else’s stuff to a greater or lesser degree without actually destroying it. In the 13th century it was used to refer to various land-use rights of nobles, serfs, blah blah blah, Black Plague, stabbing, whatever.

But where I live in southern California there are perfectly enormous fruit trees growing in neighborhood yards, dripping with luscious lemons, limes, avocadoes, satsumas, etc… The general implied rule has always been “yeah, take a couple, don’t go crazy though.”… A sort of informal usufruct rule, I guess. So this ancient fussy medieval legal term has actual everyday application.

But wait, it gets juicier. Someone with the right of usufruct is called… a usufructuary.

All I can say is… delicious.


Here, too, in central Florida, @Habilis! Star fruit, all kinds of citrus, mangoes, papaya, pineapple (yes, I know that’s not a tree), bananas, and that’s just what we’ve grown in our own yard!

(Probably also like you, we can’t do certain things like cherries and apples, they need a frost in the winter).

Unfortunately, there are some of my neighbors who would rather the fruit rot in their yard than let people collect it when it falls, and I can’t quite find the right word for that. It was really vexing when I was a kid growing up here. The best word (or at least one one I like to say) is pernicious.

Or, to be perfectly honest, (and there are times I do like to say this, very much, but it is far from delicious), they were “assholes.”

Vexing is a little spicy, and it’s slightly pointy. Like fresh cracked black pepper on potato chips (crisps).

Pernicious is fun in the way that stomping a small packet of ketchup is fun when you’re 13. You can just fire it off, it smells not-exactly-bad, someone’s getting a little dirty, and a lot of people may still be wondering what happened after.


For a lovely pairing, consider putting pernicious and perfidious together in the same verbal volley, as in “Naturally I would expect such a pernicious lie from such a perfidious, pusillanimous poltroon as yourself, sirrah!”


I have to tell you, verbal volley is my favorite part of your response. I don’t know how describe it as a flavor (Pop-Rocks and vanilla ice cream?) but that’s really fun to say.


I asked my (almost) 21 year old what his favorite word is to say.


I almost fell down.

True, it’s part of the name of my favorite Discworld character (Moist von Lipwig, which, by itself, is actually kind of a rocket-ride), and made me kneel in memory of Sir Terry.

But it can be such a silly and/or creepy word. If some dude sidles
(a very fun word, it’s kind of crispy and greasy. Sorry for that aside!)
Anyway: if some dude sidles up to you and tells you that he’s “moist,” how do you take that?

A cake, a cave, and a fungus can be moist. It’s a difficult word to get your brain around, really, it can mean a lot of different things for your situation. It’s much more flexible than “wet,” because it’s in a bit of space that doesn’t have a measurable definition. It can be creepy, delicious, funny, or simply descriptive.

In the end though, this thread is about how words taste. So!

It’s not juicy, nor dry, it actually only tastes moist. It’s practically an onomatopoeia for an abstract concept, an adjective that both describes and tastes like itself.


I was buying drinks from my local drink-monger (it was the 7-11 a few blocks away) and they’re acclimated to me refusing plastic bags and just putting the stuff I buy in my jacket pockets, or carrying a reusable bag (throwing things like plastic bags away is a hassle I don’t want to deal with, and besides, my reusable bag is Star Wars themed and totally awesome).

Well, I forgot all of that stuff, and the lady noted I needed a regular plastic bag because I didn’t have my normal “regalia.”

That was kind of awesome, a convince-store manager just busting out with regalia. I love this lady.

It’s a bit spicy, as a word, and also a bit chewy, like it has a little too much fat. It’s still very savory, I like it.

For some reason, I think it needs to have a side-dish of rigamarole, which is a very bouncy dessert word, IMHO.

Chicanery is cool, too, I guess, but I think there’s a word I’m missing.

Anyway, just for the hell of it: Canoodle. Foofaraw. Hullabaloo. Take those and go play.


I hope you had your caboodle to go with that kit?


I had a canoodle to go with the caboodle, but no kit. That was assumed to be brought by any other interested parties.




I’ve just rediscovered gesticulating


I like it too, it’s like you’re trying to get your tongue to do what the word describes. Kind of an inverted onomatopoeia.

It doesn’t hurt that’s pretty much the way that I talk in person, it’s like 30-45% talking with my hands and body language. And, yes, I come from a largely Italian heritage, don’t be racist, people.

Codswallop isn’t actually a tasty word, it’s kind of gross, but it’s still fun to say. It’s kind of slippery and slimy, and wriggles like it wants to get out of your mouth. Ewww…

I’ve always liked ambidextrous, it feels like a kind of off-brand sugar substitute that still tastes sweet, but means serious business.
In real life, I’m considered to be ambidextrous, but I discovered there’s a better word. I’m ambisinistrous: “two left hands.” I’m just as crap with both my hands.

Something I’ve always disliked: hunky-dory. It means “everything’s OK” but it tastes like those godawful marshmallow “circus peanuts,” perhaps the most reviled of all the candies.


No idea if it is here already or not but entscheidung. The entscheidung problem is a problem in mathematics that rather haunts me - the decidability problem. Not to bore, but working on it led Turing to come up with the idea of the digital computer. I love/hate the problem because I can’t understand Kurt Gödel’s proof.


That is not here already, believe me.

(EDIT: sorry, that was an awful response from me @MrJackdaw, it was partially from a logic game I was playing with my jerk friend who’s much better at it than me, he’s such a jerk.
What I should have said was, “What does entscheidung taste like?” I bet it tastes like licorice and blacktop paving! With a hint of chicken feathers…?)


I’m finally going to come right out and say it. I have word aguesia. I just can’t taste words! I get the texture and ‘mouth feel’ but no sweet, sour, salt, bitter or umami. I know that aguesia sublimates in my mouth from a chewy solid to a hissy gas. I know umami smacks me in the lips… But that’s it.

I am just so grateful that I can taste words here, vicariously, with all your wonderful descriptions. Thank you!


No offence taken! It was a good reply… :smiley:


Snafu/ed is a great word! Snafu… from the Americans, who have invented some nice things in their time :wink:

Example of use;

That move just snafued the whole strategy

My day is completely snafued

My body is snafu


SNAFU! One of those great, rare examples of an acronym becoming a fantastic word.

FUGAZI, on the other hand… solid work as a band, but not so much as an everyday word. Guess the context doesn’t come up much. Good thing, that.


Better than fubar.
Yes, Catch 22 was an amazing book. Joseph Heller is a hell of a writer. We’re all snafued.


Dammit, @brian!


Personally, I prefer Misplaced Childhood.