Surcee or Surcie — we love it!

My beautiful collar from Juliette’s Couture was a “surcee” from our friend Edwina.

We’re sharing a previous blog post because we were reminded of a special word just the other day and thought that some of our readers may want to add this to their vocabulary.

This is a word that many people associate with the South. It is one that the Editorial Assistant, Mom Karen, uses from time to time. She says that it’s a word that she learned from her Mother.

The word is surcee, but also is spelled surcie. It’s pronounced “Sir-See.

Regardless of the spelling, a surcee (or surcie) is an unexpected gift or treat given just for the fun of it or because someone wants to give you something to cheer you up or to recognize you for something special that you have done or accomplished.

The etymology of the word seems to be unknown, although a likely source could be the Scots verb “sussie,” meaning “to take trouble, to care, to bother oneself.” And the Scots verb may even have had its origins from the French “souci,” meaning “care, trouble.”

So, from “souci” to “sussie” to “surcee or surcie” and into our language, take time to give someone an unexpected treat. They will love you for it!

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Me, Myself — and Selfie!

Lady Louise does not take selfies. She graciously allows others to photograph her!

A question on this week’s “Jeopardy! College Championship” led us to look up the history of a word that became the Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2013 and sent many who love the English language into despair.

The word selfie is used around the world and is part of our daily vocabulary. We discovered that it was an Australian named Nathan Hope who first used the word in an online forum in 2002.

After celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday, Hope took a tumble down some steps and landed face first. The fall caused an injury requiring stitches in his lip. We didn’t know that eating birthday cake could lead to such pain! Or, maybe it was the punch that led to his tumble.

In an online forum, he discussed his stitches. When a friend ask what happened, Hope posted a photograph of his injured lip and wrote, ”  … sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

It was the first written use of the word selfie. The rest is language history.



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For your vocabulary

PenultimateWe heard a word being used and thought we knew the meaning. However, the Editorial Assistant, Mom Karen, looked up the word to know for certain.

The word is penultimate, meaning next to the last or the one before the last — such as the penultimate chapter in a book or the penultimate act in a play.

The word was first used in the late 17th century and comes from Latin paenultimus, from paene (almost) + ultimus (last). It is a great word to use when you write and want a phrase other than “next to the last.”

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Interesting word in the news


The recent news of consumers threatening to boycott certain stores or businesses because of political frustration led us to look up the word — not because of its meaning but to understand its origin.

We were surprised to find that the word boycott, now written with a lower case “b,” originated during the Irish Land War in the fall of 1880.  At the time, tenant farmers in rural Ireland had a poor harvest and were seeking to pay lower rents.

According to the blog of the Oxford English Dictionary, the Irish Land League was working for better conditions for the farmers and using tactics to push back against the landlords and their agents.  Captain Charles C. Boycott, an agent for one of the land owners, refused to meet the terms of the farmers and the league and became the focus of tensions.

When conditions reached a boiling point, almost every servant or farmer at the estate  where Boycott worked was driven off and told not to come back. Newspapers retaliated and urged the public shunning of landlords and their agents. Boycott was unable to find workers to work the harvest, businesses refused to sell to him and his area community shunned him. By December 1880, the Illustrated London News noted that to “Boycott” had become an active verb, meaning to intimidate or “to taboo.”

The word and the action represented were adopted by other European languages, including French boycotter (1880), German boycottieren (1893; now boykottieren), Dutch boycotten (1904), and Russian bojkotirovat (1891).


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Are you sentimental?



Have you thought about the words that express our feelings?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary has compiled a list of “mushy words” that  are a perfect fit for this week of hearts and love.

Included in the list from Merriam-Webster is the word sentimental, which has its origin in the Latin word sentire, meaning “to feel.” If you are a sentimental person, then you may have strong feelings of love or sadness which may seem excessive or even foolish to some people.

Check out a few more of these words, including chocolate-box, cloying and crush, to know more about the meaning and origins of the words of love in our vocabulary. Visit to boost your “mushy” vocabulary.

(Illustration by hyena reality,







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Learn the ‘new words’


All of the words that we will use in our lives haven’t been created. Just because you learned to spell a zillion words in school doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for the rest of your life.

A blog from Cambridge Dictionaries Online, called About Words, gives us new words that are being spoken or have been found in print in American or British English. Some of these words will make their way into the dictionary because of their popularity. Others will be used and die quickly.

An example of a recent “new word” is “instafamous.” This word is an adjective and means achieving some degree of fame by posting selfies to Instagram.  Another new word from this week is “dude-fussing.” This is not a word meaning a guy who is upset over something. “Dude-fussing” is an adjective to describe “inefficient, unfocused action designed to give the illusion of useful activity.” An example would be a person constantly trying to straighten a tablecloth when the cloth had no wrinkles.

If you check out the About Words blog, you will know interesting words that you can add to your conversation and sound so smart!







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