Word: Appetency

appetency (n)

  • (archaic) A longing or desire
  • A natural tendency or affinity

Although, as with previous entries, initially encountered in Foyle’s Further Philavery, the above definition is taken from the OED which, unlike that book, lists both meanings.

What is interesting is the implicit link established between longing and desire and natural, potentially biological or innate, tendencies, inclinations and needs. We are capable of wanting things on a less physical, biological level. I can desire to do well on a certain assignment; I can fervently hope the postman arrives with my recorded delivery package before I need to leave the house. But the word ‘longing’ carries, at least to me, something more fundamentally physical. It would be misleading to say that the desire simply emerges from the biological needs and drives of our personal mechanism, but we feel it manifest itself in a physical presence, deeply entrenched in our fundamentally embodied existence.

That said, I wouldn’t claim to be particularly afflicted by such desires all that often. Bar certain spots of turmoil, for the most part my desires are typically higher order, more rational, or less pressing. And sometimes that’s rather annoying when it comes to decision-making. It seems, so often, to be easier to know what I do not want, either that which stirs up no bodily response, or to which my body acts in repulsion, or to know what rationally I recognise as undesirable or unlikely to be beneficial. Yet what threatens is a potentially unending process of elimination, in most cases beginning prior to even knowing all the options to consider.

If indeed there is any moral to all this, I’m willing to let you draw it for yourselves. For me, what is reaffirmed is the complexity of the self, our inability to wholly detach rationality from physicality, as the threads of these elements cross across each other and sustain and support each other in the complex fabric of our desires, personalities and motivations. Sometimes the challenge is working out which voices, which currents in ourselves, we should listen to and take as starting points for action. However, for me the challenge may also be simply remembering to be grateful for the times when it’s so clear, so indisputable, what I want, that even if I choose not to pursue it, I get one of my clearer insights into myself in that single, enmeshed, respect.





Word: Bathykolpian

bathykolpian (adj)

  • having a large chest with a deep cleavage; deep-bosomed


Just a really useful word… I’m gradually disseminating knowledge of it amongst my friends, and I think it may be catching on…

It’s derived from the Greek roots for deep and cleft, although the following link provides a more thorough etymological description for anyone interested:




It’s safe to say that this word would not apply to me. I could, of course, launch into a lengthy discourse about social expectations, body image, unrealistic pressures, plastic surgery, photo-shop and padded bras. I don’t, however, want to. I was about to remark that the size of my breasts need at any one time only affect me and possibly one other person. This is of course technically not quite true. They’re my own double manifestation of a personal statistic. They may also be seen as an aspect of a social norm or ‘other’ against which someone else may measure themselves.

However, breasts are breasts. I’d love to know what the opposite of ‘bathykolpian’ would be…

Word: Apocolocynotosis

apocolocynotosis (n)

  • The process of being turned into a pumpkin

Another word taken from Foyle’s Further Philavery. I’ve tried Googling this word to determine its status and origin, and the results are rather sparse. However, from what I can gather, it derives from a political satire about the Roman Emperor Claudius, playing on the word ‘apotheosis’. This latter means the elevation of a person to a divine rank, and in this context refers to the recognition as gods of dead emperors.

Much as I love Christopher Foyle’s collection, it does somewhat peeve me that he doesn’t always include such details as to the words’ origins. It does, however, leave associations with the words at least initially more free.

For me, the word apocolocynotosis is intriguing because, in modern-day Cinderella contexts, it seems to attempt to blend the scientific with the fantastic and mythical. I’m currently really interested in the significance of metamorphosis, in its different forms as either gradual, scientifically-plausible transformation, or as supernatural, impossible change. Cinderella’s reverting carriage is of the latter variety; it resists scientific explanation, it does not even attempt to appeal for one. As such, the incongruity between magical transformation and an attempt to see a sudden, immediate change as part of a “process” is interesting. Perhaps it says something of our desire to make the world knowable. Perhaps, alternatively, it reveals our perverse delight in thwarting such attempts.

A process seems to be something continuous, something that has a gradual effect that unfolds in time. Magic, supernatural magic not illusion, relies on the disturbance of this. Illusion thus depends on, and invokes our belief in, this continuity, only to deny it in the individual instance of the illusion. A world where a process can accelerate implausibly from beginning to end denies the magical. It would create the potential magic purports to create, but by normalising it, it would lead to us inevitably investing instead in other forms of desired, inaccessible potential.

Word: Aspectabund

aspectabund (adj)

  • having a face that shows emotions clearly


It’s a good word, not least as an opposite to ‘poker-faced’.

My friend, to her recurring disadvantage, is incredibly aspectabund. I tend to find that my face has relaxed into expressiveness in more recent years, and tends to be at its most uninhibited when I’m around those who make me happiest. Put me with whose with whom I don’t get on, those I don’t trust, and those I need to impress and my face can close off.

Open faces are disarming, like public indiscretion, excessive PDA, or being forced to witness another’s embarrassment or humiliation. But amongst those to whom your closest that openness becomes so valuable. It’s hard to be with someone, wanting to simply be with them, and having to interpret their face, their movements, their words, rather than merely perceiving them as what they are intended.


Interesting aside:

Neuroscientists have found evidence that when watching another’s actions or emotions, similar neural paths fire in our own brains as if we were performing those actions or experiencing those emotions for ourselves. The quantity and placement of these ‘Mirror Neurons’, as well as their role, their initial cause or function, and what they might mean for science and philosophy are all areas still very much under active debate. Yet we presumably do not perceive emotions merely objectively, but instead our perceptions, and possibly even conceptions, of them, are neurally connected to our subjective experiences of such emotions. Less scientifically, I’ve found myself walking down the street rehearsing a conversation, imagining an encounter or remembering an experience, and catching my face moving into positions expressive of the emotions of those experiences. I don’t mean to attribute this to mirror neurons, but merely to note the interrelatedness of perception, qualitative experience and actions in experience. Some of it also will be a performative dimension of our lives and identities. However, it is indeed interesting to wander just how aspectabund my face may be when it’s too busy to notice.



The word ‘aspectabund’ and its definition are ones I’ve discovered in a collection of unusual words entitled Foyle’s Further Philavery, by Christopher Foyle. See http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6071974-foyle-s-further-philavery.