From time to time a word will pop into my head. It is usually a well worn word, that has seen decades of hard use. The word will appear before my mind, transformed by a softer, more distant light. It will lure me into a state of wonder, as its meaning strikes an unfamiliar pose, as if I’ve come upon it, as a stranger in a strange land might.


I’ve not really thought about the word before. It is a word that I learned early in my foray into language, used daily as ablutions neared successful completion.

It is a charming little word, don’t you think? Pants that are worn under overpants. Overpants, not a word I’ve ever heard or used. But underpants, these little pieces of fabric, have their own word. Their presence, hidden as it is behind a veil of outer fabrics, is recognized, and honoured with a moniker.

Underpants. The word puts me in mind of a Carl Larrson painting, Mamma’s and the small girls’ room, watercolor, 1897.

Mamma’s and the small girls’ room, watercolor, 1897



Date: 4:00 PM EDT Monday 26 August 2019
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 23.5°C
Dew point: 11.5°C
Humidity: 46%
Wind: SSW 7 km/h
Humidex: 26
Visibility: 24 km


“It’s the good girls who keep diaries; the bad girls never have the time.”
Tallulah Bankhead
1903 – 1968

Well!! There’s me sorted.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Stubblejumpers Cafe

And here I thought it was just me who had words pop into my head by surprise, for no apparent reason! I’ve planned to keep a notebook handy to write them down, because honestly they aren’t even related to anything I’m thinking at the moment. So strange. -Kate


Interestingly, panties, underpants, and even knickers are diminutives of words for men’s pants. Only bloomers, from the word give clothing worn by Amelia Jenks Bloomer, is a solely female based name for our undergarments.

On the odd occasion, I too can have a word suddenly show up in my mind, but it doesn’t happen very often.


Ah, words and cracking the code of learning to read! How well I remember being desperate to do it, because I knew that if I could just figure it out, I could find out all kinds of things.

I have a vivid recollection of sitting with my tiger storybook, which I had memorized, trying to match the sounds of the words I knew with the letters on the page. There was a true eureka moment when it came together for me. The word was “the.” A humble little article, which had the gall to be pronounced two different ways, the subject of a long conversation with my mother when I ran to tell her of my discovery. I was not an easy child.