A Wicked Welcome to Laura DiSilverio

Poirot PuzzleMany thanks to Julie and the rest of the Wicked Cozy crew for inviting me here today. I was planning to talk about my new best-selling series, featuring the five women in the Readaholics Book Club in Heaven, Colorado who read classic mysteries and solve murders, but over the hols, I got caught up in a conversation I want to share instead.

Researchers talk about how twins sometimes develop their own language. Couples do, too. (I’m not asking for you to supply personal examples, but it’s not uncommon for couples to have special names for certain body parts, or code words for, ahem, intimacies.) Families also sometimes develop words or phrases that would leave anyone outside the family going “Huh?”

The goofafon with the druts circa 2005
The goofafon with the druts circa 2005

In my family growing up, my father coined the word “drut” to refer to obnoxious, ill-behaving children, especially in public places. The astute among you will have noticed that “drut” is “turd” spelled backwards. I didn’t say this was going to be high-brow or clever, did I? I guess he came up with drut because it was marginally more acceptable to complain about “druts” in a restaurant than to offend the parents and passersby with the other term. The funny thing is, my brothers and I have perpetuated the use of this word in our own families. I expect to see it inducted into the Oxford English Dictionary any day now.

My hubby and kids and I came up with the words “smartaclesic” and “thinky power” years ago. I don’t remember the origin of them, but the girls were much younger. Proper use would be, “I used my thinky power to guess the killer in that Castle episode” (not that it takes much thinky power to figure out a Castle plot). Or, “It was smartaclesic of you to read the SparkNotes before writing your Hamlet essay.” As you can probably tell, there’s no shortage of sarcasm in our household.

Our previous dog (long gone to his heavenly reward) was a “goofador” because he was goofy and a Labrador retriever. Our new dog is equally goofy, but he’s a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon and “goofafon” is too hard to say. Maybe if we went with “goofagriff”?

I’m sure there’s some intellectual, scientific-sounding reason that couples/families do this, but without looking up reams of research, I’d guess it’s because it gives a sense of being inclusive in a special way. Such words can also bring back memories of special times together as a family.

Readers: What words or phrases did your family make up? Or, do the characters in your books and their families invent unique words? I’d love to hear some. Oh, yeah . . . while you’re thinking about it, go buy copies of The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco and The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle. I’m going to make a point of inventing a family-specific word for Amy-Faye Johnson and her family in the next installment!

More about The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle

Amy-Faye Johnson’s book club, the Readaholics, is engrossed in Murder on the Orient Express, and Poirot’s surprising resolution is stirring up debate. Is the solution remotely realistic? Is justice served by Poirot’s decision? Well, the book is fiction after all…

Then, just as Amy-Faye is planning the grand opening of her brother Derek’s pub,
his hot-headed partner is murdered. To keep Derek from being railroaded as a suspect, Amy-Faye and the Readaholics take a page from Poirot and investigate. But as the clues lead to unlikely places, surprising motives, and a multitude of suspects, Amy-Faye and her pals wonder if truth can be just as strange as fiction.



Laura DiSilverio is the national bestselling author of 15 mystery and suspense novels, and a retired Air Force intelligence officer. Her first standalone suspense novel, The Reckoning Stones, debuted in September and was a Library Journal Pick of the Month. Her  Book Club Mystery series kicked off in 2015 with The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco and The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle. A Past President of Sisters in Crime, she pens articles for Writer’s Digest, and teaches writing in various fora. She plots murders and parents teens in Colorado, trying to keep the two tasks separate.

35 Thoughts

  1. I love these words. Goofafon sounds like something Jeff Dunham would have one of guys say!

  2. Fun post, Laura! I’m sure there is a linguistics term for those kinds of words but I can’t come up with it. With my kids, my older son’s nickname – Ayah – came from how his little brother pronounced Allan. And the little brother called himself Non Naywid for a while – and we still refer to John David as Naywid. Or Butie (rhymes with book) – because for some reason Allan called him the Little Butie. Looking forward to reading the new series!

  3. In college, reading a Peanuts comic strip aloud, one of the girls in our dorm pronounced “bleagh!” as blee-agg. It caught on and the rest of our time there a lot of us said “oh, blee-agg” whenever we encountered anything icky. I still find myself using it on occasion some forty plus years later.

    1. I love “oh, blee-agg.” I may have to adopt it. We had a similar mispronunciation of the word “façade,” when the girls were little and so now we run around saying “fuhKADE” instead of “fuhSAHD.” I’m always worried I’m going to do it in front of strangers and they’re going to think I’m a moron.

      1. A guy I used to work with said Viola! when he meant Voila! Now I say viola all the time and also worry I’ll forget and say it in public…

  4. one of my kids called ketchup “tattoo” , which it is to this day: “When you come out on the porch, please bring the tattoo.” I pity my DIL trying to absorb thirty years of family insider terms.

  5. As a very small child I dubbed my grandmother “Amah” and it stuck. I have no idea where it came from, since my family would never have proposed “Grandma,” and my mother called her own grandmother Nana. Nor did I know that “amah” means something like nursemaid in one or another Asian country. But my sister and I still call her Amah, even though she’s long gone (at the age of 94).

  6. Unfortunately I can use any of our words in polite company. My daughter went to babysit a family and when she arrived the mom explained they had their own made up language. It was the first and last time my daughter went there — she couldn’t communicate with the kids. Thanks for stopping in — great post and a fun topic.

    1. We’re not polite company, Sherry–you can tell us. 🙂 Very interesting about the kids with their own language. I’ve heard about that with twins, but not so much with other sibs.

      1. It was three different siblings and the mom used it too. She made a short list for Elizabeth of what different sounds meant. Our word is dumas — are we talking literary — Alexandre Dumas or – dummies — not hard to figure out with context.

  7. My father used to call me and my sisters “Idiot and Elliott” when we did something silly or moderately stupid–whether it was two, three, or all four of us. I guess he meant for us to decide who was an Idiot and who was an Elliott. One of his other favorites was “You goofy bastard.” These two expressions are still in common use in our family. My mom had a very strange term for a misbehaving child: “hawnyawk.” She claimed she didn’t know where she got the word, and we always thought she made it up. It was used as a term of gentle exasperation. Turns out (thanks to the miracle of Internet research), it is a pejorative term describing someone of Hungarian descent–in other words, a gypsy. OED spells it “hunyak.” I know Mom never meant it that way, but it has died a quiet death in the family, which is probably for the best in light of new information!

  8. Mother of twins here–mine didn’t make up a language, thank goodness. I was already outnumbered and outgunned without them being able to communicate in secret.

    We have no made up words but lots of phrases, mostly from my French grandparents. The one I used when annoyed is “tete de chevre” which translates to “head of a goat.” It works for hardheaded, stubborn, nincompoopy types.

  9. In my family those words are mostly derived from names. For example, if someone clears your glass and has it washed up and in the drainboard before you’ve even finished drinking, you say, “Did you Ethel my glass?” after my super-organized neatnick maternal grandmother. To force fit something, either physically or intellectually, is to “Elsie” after her much older sister who was known to take her thumb and mash down a jigsaw puzzle piece that didn’t quite fit in the space. To truly mess up, is to “Vera.” I never met Vera, who was a distant cousin, but when I was little, I was terrified to be like her (whatever it is that she did).

    1. I love this, too. It makes me wonder what “to Laura” would mean. I’ll put this to my family at the dinner table tonight. Hm. maybe I’d rather not know what they think “to Laura” should mean.

  10. Something Susannah said sparked a memory of my father. If we asked, “Guess what?” he’d answer “dead horse in the bathtub?” I think it came from a joke and it started long before The Godfather came out (I know that was a bed not a bathtub).

  11. For us, it isn’t words as much as running jokes in the family, usually teasing some for something they’ve done. Or Calvin and Hobbes quotes. Or quotes from other books we all ready. Adventures in Odyssey also provided a lot of great quotes.

    I had a friend listen to a sermon my brother gave a couple years back. When we got to the point where my brother was quoting a bunch of Calvin and Hobbes strips to illustrate a point (no, really, it did), my friend commented, “Yep, he’s your brother.”

    1. Oh, and I forgot to say that if you haven’t read the books in the Readaholics series, you need to fix that, stat! They are both wonderful, and I’m looking forward to book 3.

  12. Fun post! Somewhere along the way we changed frisky into friksy and it has endured. My daughter even named her dog Friksy.

  13. When our next door neighbor Chase was a little boy his word for the underarm product was “deodormint.” Chase has grown up, and moved away, but we still use “deodormint.” in our house. (It does make a certain amount of sense, doesn’t it?)

Comments are closed.