instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle




The friend who offered this word is a gay man, and he accompanied tittynopes with, "Not a phrase a gay man would use." My mind's ear heard his naughty giggle. It's not a phrase I would use, either; in fact, I had to look it up, which I know was part of my friend's intent. I mis-typed it into the online dictionary. My fingers, and no doubt my brain, kept wanting it to be tippynopes. Somehow, that seems a non-word that is so much less offensive than tittynopes, which, however, is a word, and its meaning is not even offensive.
As it happened, the evening I received the word, I was at a hot dog roast. Baked beans and a tomato salad accompanied the hot dogs, and there were marshmallows for dessert. There were tittynopes at the end, and we discussed at some length how those tittynopes would be used the next day for our host's lunch. We did not, however, use the word tittynopes. We watched her combine some of the tittynopes into a storage container. Soon after that, we took our leave, admiring the fanciful begonia on her porch, not knowing she would gift us with cuttings from it the next day.
No doubt you've figured out from the above little tale what tittynopes means. But if you remain in doubt, a tittynope is defined as "a small quantity of anything left over, whether a few beans on a dinner plate or the dregs at the bottom of a cup." The word was in use in 18th century England when it meant "a small quantity of a tasty treat." It came from the word tittle, which, if you're familiar with the King James version of the Bible, you will recognize from Jesus' words, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law," etc. Tittle referred to the miniscule, to minutiae.
One day, as I worked in the archives of the Museum of Danish America, Cheyenne (my supervisor in my volunteer capacity) mentioned how much she enjoys reading the menus of various Danish American functions as she catalogs their programs. She proceeded to read one aloud, and I commented that it's almost always a delight to read about food, think about food, eat food. Food is good, and reading about it can sometimes be as satisfying as consuming it. Think about literary cookbooks, a favorite genre of mine.
But how often are we satisfied with a tittynope of a delicacy? Can we savor and be content with a single designer chocolate? Will the thinnest slice of key lime pie suffice? Ten bites of comfortable mac and cheese? In French Women Don't Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano, reminds us that it's the first few mouthfuls of something delicious that taste truly spectacular. And yet, because it's so good I, for one, want, of course…more. And more. If you haven't already, pay attention to that fact and perhaps delight yourself with just a tittynope, by the 18th century definition.
As for the current meaning, I find that tittynopes often inspire creativity. After the hotdog roast, our host's beans were sparked up by the smokey flavor of sliced frankfurter. Add the last tablespoon of chopped green chiles to a mashed avocado when you weren't planning on it, spoon the last of the pintos onto chips under melted cheese, and voilà, you have an unexpected taste treat. Fold the stir fry from two nights ago into a couple of beaten eggs––you get the idea. A lot of the delight in present day tittynopes comes to us in the form of surprise, the marriage of the unusual and the spontaneous. Tittynopes it is!


The word tittynopes was brought to you by Paolo Renigar, a gay man, sociolinguistic researcher, educator, and obviously, sometimes a tease.



Comments are always appreciated! If you'd like to see YOUR WORD become a story, poem or reflection, send me one in the comments. Or send it privately, using the "Contact" tab. If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing at 

If you already subscribe, please invite a friend(s) who would enjoy WORDS FROM FRIENDS to subscribe. Thanks in advance!

Post a comment



Finding ourselves
In the Middle
Between worlds
We cross over and through
Or slogging


Nano seconds


Navajo sand paintings are
Places where the gods
Come and go


Coming and going
Arriving one day


Heaven knows how
We will get there
We know we will

NOTE: The last three lines of this poem are from Art Garfunkel's "Woyaya."
The word transition was brought to you by Shelley Wiley, a woman of strength and flexibility who has traversed many transitions.

Comments are always appreciated! If you'd like to see YOUR WORD become a story, poem or reflection, send me one in the comments. Or send it privately, using the "Contact" tab.


If you like what you see here, please consider subscribing at

Post a comment




Possibly the most endearing line in Franco Zeffirelli's Tea with Mussolini is spoken by Lucca, the boy whose character is loosely based on Zeffirelli himself. The English ladies, known as the Scorpioni for their determination to remain in Florence when England and Italy are at war, are being taken into custody. The delightfully eccentric Arabella, played by Judi Dench, has a much beloved dog, whom she is not allowed to bring with her. When Lucca appears on the scene, she cries out, "Look after him." Lucca replies, "Of course! We were puppies together." That's the sweet line.
Puppy is a near onomatopoetic word. Say it a few times while you watch a puppy roll and leap and trundle and run as fast as its short little legs will grow—puppy, puppy, puppy—and you may agree with me. When I think of puppies, the word that comes to mind is roly-poly. And then perhaps joy. Unbounded joy. And it's hard to resist feeling that joy, even if you might not want a puppy in your own life. Laughter, too––belly laughs as a puppy falls all over itself and jumps up with no shame, no attempt to recover its dignity. What dignity?
Learning, however, is not the first word that comes to mind, and yet, it's embedded in Lucca's words, "We were puppies together." Probably the reason I'm content with enjoying other people's puppies and feel no need to have one of my own is the learning bit. Clearly Lucca and Arabella's puppy (who is never named, as I recall) are learning life lessons together. Arabella's puppy is learning where to pee and poop, how to walk on a leash, though it happens with the greatest of ease in the film. Lucca is learning harder lessons––the fact that his mother is not just on a cloth-buying trip to Paris; she is not coming back. In fact, he learns that she has died, though no one told him until Joan Plowright's character takes on the painful task. Later Lucca has to learn to transcend his jealousy to help the woman of his teen crush (played by Cher) escape the Fascists.
There is great joy for children in living with a puppy, and there is wonderful learning–– how to care for another, remembering their daily needs, seeing where harm could come to them and finding ways to prevent that. And then simply reveling in the task of childhood and puppyhood––play!
The word puppy was brought to you by Ann Przyzycki Devita, who recently brought a puppy into her life and the lives of her children, so they and Chip are being puppies together.


Comments are always appreciated! If you'd like to see a story, poem or reflection on a word of yours, send me one in the comments or privately, using the "Contact" tab. 

Post a comment


The stars spread their glitter still,
And the moon slid slo-mo down in the west.
God put on her bathrobe and came downstairs.
It was made of the softest wool
From my friend Roy's sheep that he loves so much.
I know because he told me how he sat and carded and spun it for her.
God put on her bathrobe and made herself and me a mug of strong black tea.
It came from Darjeeling, India.
I love this tea, don't you? she said.
My favorite, I said.
God smiled.
We sat in God's big, fat matching armchairs and sipped the good dark.
Then she stretched out her hand.
Come, she said and patted her lap.

I looked a question.
She nodded.
I set down my tea, and God did too.
I climbed onto her knee, and she put her arms around me.
She rocked me.
I burrowed into God's cushy breast.
Her fingers played my silver curls.
It's all right, she said.
You can't do anything
To end this.
Not even that? I asked.
Not even that, she said.


If you want to comment, and I hope you do, please write your words here, rather than on Facebook.

Post a comment