May 042013

Another repost from my old blog:

Last night I helped my dad clear the table. “Where do we put the trivet?” I asked.

Then I interrupted myself. “What a useless word, ‘trivet.’ In a way it’s nice that there’s such a precise word for this specific thing, but it’s sort of a waste of mental space to have to know a word that almost never gets used.”

To which my dad said, “Oh, I don’t know. I try to use it three to four times a day.”

And then, over the course of the rest of the evening, he did. Of course, not always in its original meaning, as a noun describing a portable flat surface upon which one sets hot dishes. Sometimes he used it as a verb or an adjective. Which necessarily involved adding some new meanings to its definition, as the context it was used in would dictate.

At first its meaning fluctuated somewhat randomly, but over the course of the evening it did seem to take on a consistent usage. As an adjective it sort of described a state of flummoxed confusion. In fact, in a way it described that particular condition better than any other actual English word did. So much so that I think the word “trivet” (or, in this case, “triveted”) should be adopted for common parlance.

I suspect it could be done so successfully, because at one point my sister had wandered into the room and overheard my dad inserting the word into conversation. It was perfectly clear to me what he was saying when he used it, but not so my sister who had never come across this word before (despite her rather expansive vocabulary). Completely trusting that it was an actual word in an actual dictionary, she asked my dad what it meant so she could add it to her repertoire. I think she genuinely expected that it would have some lengthy etymology, dating back perhaps all the way to Ancient Greece. As opposed to the backyard, an hour earlier.

 Posted by at 4:18 pm