Thursday, April 26, 2012

Zyxt is the last word in the dictionary

'Zyxt' which is an obsolete Kentish word apparently means (you) saw (ie. the 2nd singular indicative present form of the verb 'to see'). And, by golly, I tried my darndest to use it in a sentence some time today but I have failed. This is the last word in the Online version of the OED.  However, a bit of combing the web turned up 'zyzzyva' which is a tropical American weevil, a heck of a lot easier to write about.  It seemed as though it may have been a word created through onomatopoeia but no, a quick look at Wikipedia (that never lies ...) says that the word may have been fabricated so that it would always be positioned last in any index.  It is a pretty insect indeed but, as a weevil, is born to munch and probably made its mark on the Brazilian forests where it was first discovered by an Irish entomologist, Tom Casey.

It is roughly ant sized (the reference doesn't say what size ant!). Neither does it say what it eats or if it has any known predators.

This leads me, in a convoluted way, to the actual point of this article.  When you are writing, be sure to ask yourself all those lead questions that a curious person may put to you in a conversation.  Don't be content to leave your descriptions as loose as 'the zyzzyva was ant-sized' but do some research in detail and then work out which facts will suit your story arc.  Balzac was a master of this sort of interesting 'gossip' which, like the works of Proust, Hugo and Zola, became vital historical clues on what Paris once was like.

In the meantime, if you see a zyzzyva on your plants, try to figure out what it eats and add that to the Wikipedia listing!


  1. What great words! Never heard either one. I'm trying to visit all the A-Z Challenge Blogs in April. My alphabet is at

    1. Love the variety of words and posts! Thanks, Wendy

  2. My alphabet got a bit out of synch. I didn't read the bit about skipping Sundays!! What is the flower in the back of your blog? An iris? Very pretty. BTW, my book is free today - download and pass the message on to your readership! Click on the book on the right of this page.

  3. Hello.
    Visiting from the Post A-Z Road Trip.

    Congratulations on completing the challenge! I've not heard of zyxt or zyzzyva before...they would be good as Scrabble words...definitely worth triple points! (LOL) Interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

    Thoughts Of Beauty In The Stillness Of Dawn...

    1. Lovely poetry Andy! Thanks for stopping by. Your site looks great too and I feel guilty I haven't done anything more exciting with mine. Not enough hours in the day.