It all started when Reilly said “Hey George, the ocean called. They’re running outta shrimp.”

George was so taken aback by this, he was unable to come up with a response until hours have passed, when he’s already driving home in his car.

If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you know what comes next: “Oh yeah, Reilly? Well, the jerk store called. They’re running outta you!”

Admittedly, while “jerk store” is not exactly the best comeback, the situation does bring up a hilarious point: one often comes up with a good line way too late. Lucky for you, reader, there is actually a word made just for that situation: Treppenwitz.

This German word literally means “stairs wit” and it describes the “predicament of thinking of the perfect retort too late.” Its origin is actually French and comes from the expression “l’esprit de l’escalier” or “l’esprit d’escalier” (literally, “the spirit of the stairway”) as was first coined by the encyclopedist and philosopher Denis Diderot.

It’s about time this word came into my vocabulary. Now, not only can I tell my friends about that time I wasn’t witty enough to respond to a comment, I can also tell them exactly how I should refer to that moment of embarrassment.

Want to read more about other uncommon words? 🙂 See the Interesting Words page.

Wikipedia (English)
Wikipedia (French)
Wikipedia (German)
Wiktionary (English)
Wiktionary (German)

If you don’t know what Seinfeld is or which episode I’m referring to, here’s a guide:
1. Seinfeld
2. Seinfeld (Episode 147 – The Comeback)
3. The YouTube clip that puts everything in perspective.
4. The episode’s transcript.


Color Match 1.0

To download, please see the download page.

My inspirations for this game are multifold. The idea first came to me as I recalled a documentary I watched many years ago about climbing Mt. Everest (see the NOVA article about it here). As climbers ascended, they were presented with challenging mental tasks; one of these was the Stroop test (see Wikipedia).

My second inspiration came from a much more recent source: my tablet. 🙂 It came from me playing the game 4 Player Reactor by cool cherry trees. In this game, I was presented with the very same Stroop test. I thought it was very fun, so I set out to make my own version of it.

The game I’ve developed now is called Color Match and it can be described simply as: Stroop test gone wild.

The premise of the game is extremely simple: You are presented with a word that is printed in a certain color. When the name of the color matches the actual font’s color, you click. Get enough right and you win! Get too many wrong before the time runs out and you lose!

In this first version, you’ll have the following options:
1. There are 11 languages: English, French, German, Italian, Korean, Mandarin (Traditional), Mandarin (Simplified), Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Each language has 11 colors (but the exact numbers of entries vary because some languages have synonyms for certain colors). (As with all previous games I’ve made, all pronunciation/transliteration guides are available as you hover the mouse over the appropriate languages.)
2. Time can be set to how long (in minutes) the game lasts (minimum is 1, maximum is 60).
3. Time can be set to how long (in seconds) it takes for each new word to appear (minimum is 1, maximum is 60).
4. Points can be set to how many it takes to win (minimum is 1, maximum is 100).
5. There are 10 levels of difficulty: 1 is the easiest (with the correct word/color combination appearing more often) and 10 is the hardest (with the correct word/color combination appearing less often).
6. Number of cards can range from 3 to 15 (in sets of 3). The only reason I’ve made these the constraints was because of screen space.
7. The game counts how many clicks you make and how many buttons go by that were correct. At the end of the game, you’ll see how many you got right compared to how many were possible.

Due to a some sort of bug in Java, there is (once again) some differences between the OS X and Windows versions. The OS X version (.dmg) I run seems to be exactly how I intended it at the moment, the other two file types (.exe and .jar) seem to be suffering from some sort of color distortion (but only when a word is being set for a button that was previously blank). When that is the case, you’ll notice that the word will first be gray, then (in less than a second) changes to the intended color. I am not sure why this happens, because it’s not the code’s fault. Please tolerate this inconvenience and play the OS X version if you can.

To download, please see the download page. I hope you enjoy it!


When you think of Easter Island, you probably think of the big stone moai (see Wikipedia), not of the island’s linguistic content. But think again!

Recently, I came to learn of the word tingo (from Rapa Nui – also known as Rapanui, Pascuan, or Pascuense). Its short 5-letter appearance and 2-syllable sound belie a much more insidious meaning: to borrow things from a friend’s house, one object at a time, until there is nothing left.

I don’t know very much about Easter Island culture, but it seems a tad strange that there should be a word to describe this type of behavior. However, maybe it’s only a matter of time until this word is adopted into our respective languages. Now that I think about it, I feel like I’ve probably come across a few tingoers in my lifetime. 😛

Want to read more about other uncommon words? 🙂 See the Interesting Words page.

World Wide Words


Thaumaturgy is the capability of a magician or a saint to work magic or miracles. I guess that’s technically shorter than saying “the ability to do magic,” but I can’t imagine that that phrase comes up very often if ever, unless maybe, if you’re the Pope.

On a related note, a practitioner of thaumaturgy is a thaumaturge or thaumaturgist. But… but… but… didn’t we just get a definition saying that those people are called magicians or saints?

Want to read more about other uncommon words? 🙂 See the Interesting Words page.

Wikipedia (English)


Jumentous sounds like it’s a combination of the words joy and momentous – like the feeling you get when you find out you’re about to receive a 50% pay raise.

But it’s not.

It means “relating to, or smelling like horse urine.”

The word itself is not too offputting, but why does it have to be so specific about its equine source?

Want to read more about other uncommon words? 🙂 See the Interesting Words page.

Wiktionary (English)