Parsing A Trending Word, Thinking About My Dad

IF I OFFEND YOU, my gentle readers, by mentioning this charmingly old-fashioned word, please forgive me.  But you see, “pissant” was one of my father’s favorite words.

Dad’s been a long time gone from my life, so I’d forgotten about his use of this word.  However when I saw  “pissant” listed as Trending Now on the Merriam-Webster website, I immediately remembered Dad using the word.

OF COURSE WHEN DADDY, a physician, used the word “pissant” it didn’t stand alone.  Oh, no, no, no.  He’d further explain that the “pissant” in question was EITHER “in need of a high colonic” OR “in need of a frontal lobotomy.”

The first phrase, with the enema reference, was for those people who didn’t tell the truth– full of sh!t, ‘ya know?

The second phrase, the brain surgery reference, was for those people who were speaking illogically, making no sense– perhaps crazy.

DAD HAD A WAY WITH WORDS, I’ll give him that.  And because he was never one to not opine about events, people, &/or ideas–  many of his words have stuck with me in one way or another.

Don’t quite know what more to tell you here, my gentle readers.  Just a passing thought, from a blogging wordsmith who came by her love of words + writing early in life.

Listening to her elders [one in particular] go on & on about things. 🙄

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Do you ever hear a word and immediately think of someone who uses, or used, that word because the person and the word are inextricably linked together in your mind?

If so, what’s the word and who’s the person? If not, what prompts you to recall someone? Photos? Music? Food? Scent? 

~

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted by choice. Usually.

77 thoughts on “Parsing A Trending Word, Thinking About My Dad”

    1. Carrie, “pissant” is exactly the type of word that Clint would say– with a cigar hanging out of the side of his mouth! It’s a good word, but one that I don’t think I’ve ever used.

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  1. I’m always eager to begin reading a blog post that commences with: “IF I OFFEND YOU, my gentle readers . . .” 😀

    Different things bring people to mind ~ food, music, scents, scenes, etc. Alas, I’m not awake enough to be more specific.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. nancy, I never know exactly how far I can go when saying things here on this blog. Hence the disclaimer. HOWEVER, considering that what I said here is the truth, and it’s funny, I wrote what I did. I guess my gentle readers will have to deal with it– my childhood wasn’t exactly typical.

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  2. Love the word pissant! I do remember hearing it, but I can’t remember who used it or when. I think of my dad often now that we have a grandchild and two more on the way. He loved kids and would have loved ours and spoiled them rotten! If I ever hear Petulia Clark singing, I think of him. She was his favorite. He was taken just way too young! And whenever I wear Grandma O’s coat, I think of her and can still see her in it. I love the coat. It will never go out of style! Great post today!

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    1. Beth, I hadn’t thought of that word in decades. It’s one that doesn’t exactly roll off my tongue. I’d forgotten about Petula Clark and didn’t know that she was your dad’s favorite. It’s amazing how one performer can bring to mind your late father. No doubt Grandma O’s coat belongs with you. She was the best, wasn’t she? You deserve her coat.

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  3. I’m gonna USE this word from now on Ally Bean thank you! Of course it contains piss in it so I extra like it. I’m trying to think of words that link me to a memory of another, but it’s the weekend and I’m brain dead. En passant, have a great weekend …

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    1. Susan, I’m not sure why “pissant” was trending on the dictionary website, but there it was and instantly I thought of my Dad. Use it with my compliments. And have a good weekend, too. We all deserve one!

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  4. I’m surprised pissant would be trending, it seems like that word has been around forever. I love the word popinjay which I see is also trending. Music has always triggered memories of people and events in my life. Music 🎶 I

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    1. Jill, I was surprised to see “pissant” trending and have no explanation for it. I like “popinjay” better than “pissant.” The former seems poetic while the latter seems coarse. Not that I wouldn’t use “pissant” if the situation warranted. I’m not a Pollyanna!

      Music brings many people to my mind, too. I don’t know if it’s the words or tune…

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        1. Jill, that’s an amazing ability you have there. A few of the classics remind me of other people, but I tend to remember people more when it comes to food & drink. Sitting around a table with food [flavors] brings back memories of conversations and laughs.

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  5. I wish so badly that I could have known your dad. I hope you will share more about him.

    All the annoying things my dad did and said, i now treasure and find myself doung and saying. Because i cobstantlly have convos with mesel

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    1. Patricia, it’s odd when you realize that you’re behaving like your parents. I don’t sense that I’ll be using the word “pissant” often, but now that I remember it and Dad’s use of it, who knows? Dad was a character, both good and bad… like all of us, I suppose.

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  6. Writing in bed ain’t easy. Anyway because I constantly have convos with meself, i have adopted this one, “I do my best work when I talk to myself there are so many others but this one gets daiky use.😂

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  7. My Mom used the word “goof” to dismiss someone she didn’t like. I usually use it when I’m doing an impression of Mom. Very shortly after she died, I was sitting in her “command module,” a spot on the family room couch next to a table that invariably held her ashtray, cigarettes, whatever she was drinking, the remote for the TV, and the phone. My brothers, sisters-in-law and Mary and I were talking about something, and I started various and sundry people a goof and going off on a tirade like she used to. Suddenly I realized what I was doing and said “and I’d better move because I think she’s taking over.”

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    1. John, that’s hilarious! I’m pleased to learn that you were self-aware enough to know that you were going off the rails there. It’s odd when our parents suddenly inhabit our psyches. Great story.

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  8. Pissant – It’s a good word that seems to be regaining popularity, mostly due to a certain orange person who fits the description.
    This post also reminded me of something one of my uncles used to say that always got a laugh when I was little: “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy” 😀

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    1. Norm, I like your uncle. THAT’S TOO FUNNY! It sounds exactly like something my Dad would have said. I bet that you’re right about why “pissant” is suddenly popular again. Hadn’t made that connection.

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  9. Certain music/songs will cause an image of someone to pop into my head, as well as a few words– however, trying to recall them now is impossible. I think those sorts of little memories hide away and are not for easy recall, but must have the nudge to come forth. Maybe the memories are so very sad, or so very sweet that keeping them too present in our lives would just be too painful. I think mine are associated with lost love ones, whom I miss greatly, or lost loves–who I may or may not miss at all 😉

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    1. Deb, you raise a good point about how these spontaneous memories are just that– spontaneous. Some people, especially those who I only knew as a child, float into my brain only when prompted. Other people I connect with certain foods or songs as a matter of course. For example, say or serve penuche icing, and I’m right there with my Aunt Mary Jane. Our minds are amazingly arbitrary things, aren’t they?

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  10. The word was trending because a reporter or commentator called Tom Brady’s 5 year old daughter one. She was just being a kid happy to see her dad but distracting from whatever was going on. That said, the reporter was a young guy so I was surprised to hear him use a word that I haven’t heard in like 50 years. I was young when my dad died so there aren’t words I connect to him but he always smelled of tobacco. Not the stale smoked kind but the fresh, not-yet-smoked kind.

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    1. Kate, AH HA! That’s why this word is suddenly popular. Like you it’s a word from our childhood past, so to see it again is odd. I smell cigar smoke and I think of my grandfather, but with my dad it’s more the things he said that have stayed with me. I was a teenager when he died, and remember very little about him except his thoughts– and the impact they had on people.

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  11. I remember the word pissant from my childhood, and although I don’t specifically recall my parents using it, it’s the kind of word they certainly would have used. Songs often bring people from the past to mind – actually, songs and lyrics from songs often pop into my mind in various ways, which is interesting because I really don’t listen to music that often.

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    1. Carol, “pissant” is a word that I distinctly remember from my childhood now that I see it again. Music reminds a lot of people about a lot of people. I don’t listen to music that much either, but there are certain lyrics that remind of people– some great people, others not so much. 😉

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  12. Both my parents use the word “pissant.” My dad has many other colorful expressions, having grown up in a small town, like “He doesn’t know his ass from a shot gun barrel.” Have you seen that Polish(?) comedian who does a routine about the word “ass” being the most difficult word in the English language. Pretty funny!

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    1. Margaret, I haven’t heard “pissant” in decades. Of course my dad died when I was a teenager, so I suppose it’s no surprise that I haven’t heard it, the word seems to be from our parents’ generation. I’ve not heard your dad’s expression but “God willing the creek don’t rise” I’ll be able to use it in conversation soon. 😉

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    1. Anne, I doubt that I could have conjured up this word on the spur of the moment. I only got thinking about the connection between words and people after I saw it. Now that I’ve set my mind to it, I’m beginning to think of other word/people connections. It’s almost a personal parlor game!

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      1. Count me in to play! I thought of one. One of the partners of the accounting firm used the word “recalcitrant” about people he was criticizing. I never heard anyone other than Jack use that word in conversation.

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  13. I’m not able to come up with particular words that make me think of people, but lots of other things can evoke memories. Another commenter mentioned music, and certain aromas can make me think of people as well. And some PEOPLE can make me think of people! My father was a big admirer of President Kennedy, U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, and no one could make him laugh (hard!) like comedian Jonathan Winters. Whenever I see/hear their names, I think of my father immediately.

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    1. nance, I find that food and drink make me think of people more than words. But once I saw “pissant” I immediately thought of my dad– and began contemplating the connection between words and people.

      You bring up a good point about how certain people make you think of other people. Say “Erma Bombeck” and my mother comes to mind; she adored Bombeck’s sense of humor– probably in the same way as your dad liked Jonathan Winters.

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    2. Oh Nance, that brought up memories of my childhood. My Dad was the same with Jonathan Winters. We had these scratchy old LPs which had travelled around the world with us. We’d sit there straining to hear over the scratches … and my Dad’s laughter! Thank you for the lovely memory recall.

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  14. I love words like that, when used by the right people in the right way. It sounds like your dad covered both bases well. My father would have liked him and they would have been able to communicate easily.

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    1. Dan, quirky words like “pissant” are fun to know about and to use. Stumbling on the word at M-W website sent down a weird memory path. My dad could talk with anyone about anything, but his use of language while doing so was almost always… unique.

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  15. Am not a cool kid, but I’ll leave a comment anyway:)
    Never heard about pissant.
    About your question of the day (by the way, an interesting feature! I usually don’t remember people by words they use, because I am more visually inclined than auditory, remembering their visual expressions, their profile or hair do, or gestures.

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    1. jesh stg, you’re cooler than you think you are! I hadn’t thought of how visuals can remind you of someone, but you’re right. I see a person wearing something and immediately think of someone else who I know who might wear the same thing. Or look the same way. Or walk the same way. Excellent point.

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  16. I like smartie comments like your dad used to make.

    I can’t think of a word. But whenever I have an idea, I say, “I have an idear,” because my dad’s slight southern accent added an r at the end for some reason.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Tara, yes, my father could put anyone in his or her place with a few words– and a meaningful glance at them.

      Your use of “idear” is a good word/person connection. That’s what I had in mind when I wrote this. I was thinking about specific words that connect one person with the memory of another person in a unique way.

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  17. In an interesting twist, we watched The Walk tonight ~ a movie about Phillippe Petit’s walk on a tight wire strung (illegally) between the twin towers in NYC back in 1974.

    As the police were trying to get him off the wire so they could arrest him, one of the NYPD said, “Can you believe this little pissant?!”

    I thought you’d get a kick out of the timing. 😀

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      1. We enjoyed the telling of his story ~> in the film, he admits that he’s an arrogant, stubborn, anarchistic artist who is mad, insane, crazy.

        P.S. We liked his character and cheered for him every step of the way! 😀

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  18. I would have never guessed in a million years that pissant was even an official word. I always thought of it as one of those unofficial compound oaths that get thrown together out of two ordinary words… like douchebag or dumbass. Of course, those may both be considered proper English these days too…

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    1. You know, evil, I thought the same thing about “pissant.” I figured it was a made-up sort of cursing word that was used informally. HOWEVER, if M-W says it’s a real word, then it is. And one that brought back some memories for me.

      [Now I’m curious to know if douchebag and dumbass are real words, too.]

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    1. Marty, I’ve never heard of that word, but it certainly sounds like a word that could be said meaningfully. It’s fun when you can connect a certain word [phrase] with someone, no matter what the word is– or who the person is. To me, that connection is reassuring.

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  19. There is a woman in my life who has the richest reserve of insults I’ve ever heard. She’s nearly twice my age, not that she’d admit it, and anyone who even implies she’s seen so much of time pass, well that person might be the son of a syphilitic seacock, hm?
    Great post, Ally Bean. Definitely one of those things that make your perspectives a pleasure to read.

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    1. joey, I enjoy being around people who can create insults that are so specific & unique that there’s no comeback for the insult. “The son of a syphilitic seacock” is a wonderful example of such an insult. You’re fortunate to know this woman, inspiring as she is! 😉

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  20. I love the word “pissant”! I used to say it all the time, but I don’t remember what sparked my love for the word. I even taught it to my kids. It’s one of those words that says exactly what it means!

    Nice to have that memory of your dad. 🙂

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    1. Kate, I’d forgotten about the word, but when I saw it online I remembered my father using it. It’s such an old-fashioned sounding word by today’s standards. “Everything old is new again.” 🎶

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  21. I’ve never heard anyone using it, but it’s a great word. My grandmother had a wonderful turn of phrase too … far too vulgar for including here, but I always adored her for it.

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    1. deb, I think now that I’ve rediscovered this word, I’ll try to use it. Considering the times in which we live, I should be able to make use of it daily.

      So grandmother was a wordsmith, of a sort, eh? 😉

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  22. The word doobie always makes me think of my Grandma. Because she was of the generation that had “do be’s” and “don’t be’s” and she would always tell me to be a “good do be” but it was doobie and 13 year old me would just giggle at this little old lady who was too naive to know she was using outdated drug slang.

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    1. Katie, that’s a wonderful story. When you started writing I wondered where the story was going. I was thinking the same thing as 13 y.o. you. Very funny. [Weren’t “Do Bees” part of Romper Room, a children’s TV show?]

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  23. I was reading the list of words on the left side of the post and pissant immediately jumped out at me. Of course I’d heard it a million times growing up, but I didn’t know it was a real word. I assumed it was just one of those Northern quirks of language.
    Even an idiot would know it’s not flattery just from the sound of it 😉

    There was an expression that my dad often used … ‘how ’bout that?’ He used it like a kind of exclamation mark on a point he was making, or to a comment made by someone else. It made me cringe every time he did it.
    When I started dating my now-husband, Gilles, his English was still very much in the formative stage. That expression from my dad was one of the verbal quirks he unfortunately picked up. My dad’s been gone almost 20 years now, but that expression still makes me cringe every time my husband says it – and yet I’ve never commented on it. I guess after 35 years, the window of opportunity has now closed 😉

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    1. Joanne, I didn’t know pissant was a real word, either. I figured it was one of those things that Dad said because he was always saying something that I wasn’t supposed to repeat. Yet there was the word online at a dictionary website. To see it sent me back in time instantly.

      I’ve heard people say ‘how ’bout that?’ but not frequently. It’s a non-commital response to be sure. I suppose that it was, and is, a way to fill-in conversational pauses, especially useful when the language you’re talking in isn’t your first one. I’m sorry that the expression makes you cringe, however I agree that the opportunity to tell your husband to not use it is long gone.

      We all have our burdens to bear, ‘how ’bout that?’ 😉

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