A screed is literally a narrow strip of anything, especially land. In the context of this word hoard imagine a narrow strip of words that have caught my attention or piqued my interest from the myriad lexicon of life.


ASOBIGOKORO: translates roughly as playful heart and celebrates a sense of playfulness or a sense of fun something akin to the French joie de vivre with its connotations of an exuberant enjoyment of life.

Think… gaiety, cheerfulness, cheeriness, merriment, light-heartedness, happiness, joy, joyfulness, joyousness, delight, pleasure, high spirits, spiritedness, jollity, jolliness, joviality, exuberance, ebullience, liveliness, vivacity, enthusiasm, enjoyment, verve, gusto, relish, animation, effervescence, sparkle, buoyancy, sprightliness, jauntiness, zest, zestfulness; pep, zing, get-up-and-go, being full of the joys of spring, perkiness; gladsomeness, blitheness, blithesomeness…

Asobigokoro or asobi gokoro might describe the joy derived from company and conversation; the joy of physicality and experience; joy of anything one might do; a taking pleasure in anything and everything; a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life, a Weltanschauung involving one’s whole being or more simply a joy-filled artlessness or reason to smile.


GEZELLIGHEID: It’s no surprise that so many of northern Europe’s languages have a particular word for feeling cosy (from the Gaelic còsag, a small hole you can creep into). It’s when rain is mizzling and the damp rises from the canals that we yearn for the feeling the Dutch call gezelligheid. The Dutch love this word and are fiercely proud of all it represents. They evaluate everything on its particular level of gezelligheid. A place can be gezellig, a room can be gezellig, a person can be gezellig, an evening can be gezellig – even childbirth can be rated by its gezellig-ness (“My doctor once told me she preferred home births, simply because they were, “well… just more gezellig”)!

Gezellig and gezelligheid are less about a word and more about a feeling.

Derived from the word for ‘friend’, it describes both physical circumstances – being snug in a warm and homely place surrounded by good friends – and an emotional state of feeling ‘held’ or comforted. The Danish hygge (cosiness), the German Gemütlichkeit, which describes feelings of congeniality and companionship, and the Finnish kodikas (roughly: homely) have similar connotations. Riffle through the languages of the sunny Mediterranean however, and the equivalent combination of physical enclosure and emotional comfort is much harder to find.

gezelligheid kent geen tijd
(roughly: counting the days)

(ps. there are two sides to every coin. True to form, meet ongezellig, gezellig‘s shadowy twin. Ongezellig is a precise astute word like no other. “Let’s get out of this place, its just so ongezellig” can sum up a response to the mood of a place like no other word can!)


HWYL: Literally the word for a boat sail, hwyl is a wonderfully onomatopoeic Welsh word (pronounced who-eel) that means exuberance or excitement as if clipping along on a gust of wind. Used to describe flashes of inspiration, a singer’s gusto or raised spirits. The Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (the big dictionary of Welsh recently published by the University of Wales) lays out its ramifications like this:

A healthy physical or mental condition, good form, one’s right senses, wits; tune (of a musical instrument); temper, mood, frame of mind; nature, disposition; degree of success achieved in the execution of a particular task &c; fervour (esp religious), ecstasy, unction, gusto, zest; characteristic musical intonation or sing-song cadence formerly much in vogue in the perorations of the Welsh pulpit.

hwyl is also the word for goodbye: hwyl fawr – go with the wind in your sails

Text based on ‘The Book of Human Emotions’ by Tiffany Watt Smith



“Mardy, mardy mustard your feet are made of custard.”
playground insult/chant -Derbyshire

Mardy is a mainly Midland word (Staffordhsire/Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire). Some people think that it comes from the word mard, meaning spoilt which itself comes from the Standard English word mar (to mar something) a likely derivation being marred (+ y), pronunciation ‘ma:di’.

Mardy ‎(comparative mardier, superlative mardiest) means: awkward; uncooperative; bad-tempered or terse in communication; whiny; aloof; stroppy, moody, miserable or sulking like a small child. The mardies is a fit of petulance.

Frequently combined with other words forming common phrases such as “mardy bum”, “mardy mustard” or “mardy custard” and “mardy bugger”. Sometimes shortened to “mard” particular when used in certain phrases such as “mard arse”, “in a mard” or “mard on” (as in “he’s got a mard on” to mean he’s in a bad mood).

D. H. Lawrence 1913 in Sons and Lovers, chapter 2 “I wouldn’t be such a mardy baby,” said his wife shortly.
 In 1984 Food, Health, and Identity, Patricia Caplan [1997 edition] “When our Jonathan’s poorly… he’s mardy, very mardy.”