Adventures in Family Vocabulary

August 06, 2012

My husband and I have been married for 24 years, and over that time we’ve developed a set of words and phrases that serve as a kind of family shorthand for feelings and inside jokes. Most of them have an element of humor (good for diffusing sticky situations) and sometimes serve as a sort of verbal throwing-up-of-the-hands. For your amusement, I share a few of them below:


“I’m a delicate flower.” Meaning: whatever you’ve asked me to do is too hard, and I can’t/don’t want to do it. Sounds nicer than “You don’t really expect me to help you move that furniture, do you?”

“Pay the love toll.” Meaning: Before I give you what you want/you walk by me/you leave the house, I need a hug.

Hayseed/Nimrod. A hayseed is a person who has done something stupid, but doesn’t know any better. A nimrod knows better, but does the stupid thing anyway. With teenagers around, it’s often hard to discern between hayseed and nimrod behavior.

“Buy yourself a trinket.” Usually said by the lender to the lendee who is returning change after borrowing money. Sometimes we also say this when someone outside the immediate family tries to pay one of us back for something we paid for.

“You kids get off of my lawn.” We say this when we realize we just said something that makes us sound like old fogies. Usually accompanied by shaking a fist in the air.

Family vocabulary makes me happy. I feel more connected in an intimate way to my husband and son, because no one else completely understands the history and emotional content of our words. Sometimes saying a single word in a certain way diffuses tension, making us laugh instead of yell or cry.

Does your family have any words or phrases that serve as family shorthand or inside family jokes?

Did someone say HAYseed?

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2 comments

  1. Loved this! I can just hear some of those expressions!!:)

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  2. Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

    ReplyDelete


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