Heatwaves and other floccinaucinihilipilification

Still tending the sick (now limp and slightly fevered but no longer ejecting nourishment, very cosy under a wool [nach] blanket).

A friend came round bearing sustenance and we discussed the wonder of wool. She pointed out a feature I had not thought of – it is, she says, the ideal fabric for menopausal women suffering what she terms “heatwaves” (English is not her first language, I think this is a literal translation).

She has, she says, dispensed with all garments made of artificial fleece since if she is wearing such a fabric when a heatwave strikes she has to strip off in order to cool down and then becomes almost instantly commensurately cold.

A pure wool cardigan is her garment of choice. She says the wool regulates her temperature environment far more effectively than any synthetic fibre and, if things get really hot she can undo buttons, roll up sleeves and generally effect heat exchange efficiently without looking like a misplaced lap dancer.

Seriously, I hadn’t primed her, this is all based on her own experience. I was really impressed. And also felt slightly fortified at the thought of the inevitable “change” which has not yet exhaled its heated breath on the nape of my neck.

Meanwhile here’s part of a playful article from the BMJ about wooly words in medicine, starting with carminative (a carminative is a herb or preparation that either prevents formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract or facilitates the expulsion of said gas, thereby combating flatulence):

Carminative, surprisingly, also has woolly connections. Carminare in Latin meant to card wool, from the tool used for doing it, carmen. Intestinal wind was thought to originate from humours whose tangles could be teased out by a carminative, just like a comb carding wool.

And there is more wool further down the intestine: villus, one form of vellus, wool or a long thin hair, is now used to mean one of the finger like protrusions of the intestinal mucosa. And a derivative, vellicare, also meant to pluck.

As for floccinaucinihilipilification, you have to read the entire article to follow the strands to its originating tuft of wooliness.

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2 Comments on “Heatwaves and other floccinaucinihilipilification”

  1. Lucy says:

    I don’t believe anyone can actually say that word…

  2. rr says:

    I would never dream of attempting it. But then long words (more than about six letters) confuse me at the best of times.


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