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Hi there Mr. GK, Do

August 29, 2005 |

Hi there Mr. GK,
Do you really know all the words you use in your newspaper columns and monologues off the top of your head (e.g. "declensions," "troglodyte," "persiflage") or do you have a snazzy thesaurus gizmo? I have to run back to the dictionary when you use a doozie like "escutcheon".

Mindy Scherr
San Juan Bautista, CA

Mindy, I sat around and read from Webster's during my lonely childhood and when you have done that, words like "escutcheon" lodge in your brain. I believe it means a coat of arms and it's used in the phrase "a blot on the escutcheon," meaning a shameful episode in one's past. It's a piece of humorous bombast. I probably got "persiflage" from reading H.L. Mencken back in my solitary youth — he loved the language and loved to beat politicians over the head with it. "Declensions" of course is a grammatical term, nothing fancy, but the others are words that have real heft or charm to me. Yes, I have a thesaurus and I love using it, but the words you mention are all up in my little head. Along with "ensconced". I haven't used that one lately but I will find an opportunity.

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