Have you thanked your word surgeon today?


I just found out from my imagination that today is national Thank a Word Surgeon Day! So I am very excited because as you know, or will know after you finish this sentence, I am a word surgeon. So, thank you, me.

Without word surgeons, no lips would whisper melodies out of flutes, no hand would wield the wild épée, slicing and dicing the villains of the world, and machines would never have the chance to learn to hum. Every flute deserves a kiss from lips, every épée needs to slash out now and then, and all machines deserve to experience the electric thrill of on-ness.


Ever vigilant word surgeons roam the earth searching for nouns, rummaging through old dictionaries, discovering new inventions, reading people’s e-mails, and writing blogs. They are ordinary people who look just like you and me, although I’m pretty sure your mom could tell the difference.


Most of them are kind-hearted people, working late into the night, affixing words that will benefit humankind. One of their favorite suffixes is “-ist.” On discovering the flute, one of them delicately removed the “e,” added the “-ist,” and voilà, the flutist was born. Flutist should not  be confused with flautist, which came later, and was formed by an amateur flaunting his knowledge of Italian. This is where we get the word “flauntist,” which means one who flaunts. Still another professional took the time to add “-ist” to an épée  and Errol Flynn was born, one of the greatest pretend épéeists in the world, who swashbuckled his way into the hearts of millions of moviegoers in the 1930s and 1940s. And finally, I must mention the word surgeon who set the gears of the Industrial Revolution in motion, creating millions of jobs, by having the foresight to drop the “e” and attach “-ist” to a machine.


Word surgeons have taken simple nouns and given the world pianists, chemists, and typists. You should be thankful they are not afraid of big words or words that are hard to pronounce. We have them to thank for the otorhinolaryngologist, the feuilletonist, the chutist, and the vexillologist.

However, word surgery is not all fun and games, friends. Bad bananas happen. Sexists, agists, and racists came from somewhere. Don’t blame word surgeons. They don’t take responsibility for bad words, only good words. And if you judge them, they will make bad words about you. It’s what they do: make words.


Because of those bad bananas, “-ist” has been called The Intolerant Suffix by at least one word surgeon I know intimately. And although I fully recognize the dangers, I am going to illustrate how this works. The intolerant part, not the intimate part.  Please understand that the following words are for illustration only and should not be seen as an endorsement or encouragement toward intolerance.

  • Plaid makes you cry – you are a plaidist.
  • Being asked to play another game of Monopoly makes you gag – you are a monopolist.
  • Big hair makes you scream – you are a bouffantist.
  • People who act like donkeys or fools sicken you – you are an assist.
  • Hearing a woman called a “Ho” in a song makes you break things – you are a hoist.
  • Wearing strings instead of panties makes you uncomfortable – you are a thongist.
  • Hearing the f-word all day long makes you want to hit someone – you are a fist.
  • Irons and ironing boards are not allowed in your home – you are an ironist.

Some of you may be tempted to try this at home. I urge you to use caution. Remember, if anything bad comes of it, don’t blame me. However, if anything good comes from it, you can thank me because today is Thank a Word Surgeon Day!

34 thoughts on “Have you thanked your word surgeon today?

    • Word surgeons are divided on this. One group prefers “-er” and another group prefers “-ist.” It all depends on who gets there first. I’m sure the “-ist” group were disappointed we are not called bloggists.

      As for what you should call yourself, I suggest “elegant Irish woman.”

  1. jonesingafter40

    I’m going to have to add an -a after the -ist and declare you a wordsurgeonista. Sorry, It had to be done. Wordsurgeonist just doesn’t do you justice.

  2. Ever since you brought this up, I’ve been thinking about a word I use, but wasn’t entirely sure that it was a ‘real’ word. My iPad knew this word, which surprised me. It feels new, and even though apparently it is over 60 years old it still feels like a makey-uppy word: ginormous
    1948, perhaps originally military colloquial, from a merger of gigantic + enormous.

  3. I agree with jonesingafter 40 that you are a wordsurgeonista. Does that make all us gals blogistas?
    Regarding thongs. As I grew up throngs were open sandals. When I heard that you know who turned on your know him by exposing her thong, I couldn’t figure out what that would do for a man. As I age, I’m beginning to catch up.

  4. Whatever our Irish Lass calls herself (and I agree wholeheartedly with your suggestion, O Wonder Among Word-Surgeons), I am going to go with Bloggerator, because it sounds extremely powerful and I’m a little bit underpowered in certain departments (I’ll leave that part to your imagination) so could use the boost.

    I *do* thank you, deeply and sincerely, for all of the outstanding word surgeries you have been committ–oops, *performing* so artfully here. I can’t bear the thought of what this world would be like without the likes of you tenderly ministering to repair our acts of verbal violence. Carry on!

    • I think we should use various names, depending on how we feel that day. When we write nimbly, twirling on our tiptoes, our title should be Bloggerina. For plodding days, merely Blogger. When we write tornadoes that upend the world, it must be Bloggerator. And when we write about current events, Blogcaster. There can certainly be more and I believe many more will spring from you fecund brain.

  5. I commented on your guilt post and someone just told me my comments are doing the ‘going into the spam folder’ thing – so I thought that might well have happened. I wonder if this will become spam also? Just thought I’d check!

    • I recently checked my spam folder because some other bloggers mentioned they were having problems, and several of yours were there. Odd. WordPress has recently added the new function of notifying us of comments, so perhaps it’s a temporary glitch that will soon be fixed.

  6. I’m giggling and guffawing and generally freaking out the dogs this morning because of this piece. I’ve decided that you are a master of “the triple,” which is a type of extended joke in which the third part goes a direction one never expects.

    A “triple” is a very hard form to do well. Your execution is flawless here and everywhere.

    I have a feeling, a very good feeling, that for the rest of the day, I am going to be affixing “ists” to things and people to see what sticks. Boy howdy, you’ve just made my Monday that much more interesting, and I thank you for that. 🙂

    • Courtenay, you are one of the most interesting people I have met online. You are so well-read, you dance, you write, you poem, you make funny, and you know something about everything. Plus you’re genuine and helpful and wise. Where was I the day they passed out all the good stuff?

      • On that day, they slipped a double-portion of humor on your plate, a side of sweetness that is awfully rare, and a writer’s voice that ranges from the deep tunes to the light sweet songs. And lucky me, I get to experience what you do with these gifts. Ah! You do make my heart sing! Thank you, Yearstricken, you are amazing.

  7. Thank you, my beloved word surgeon! My least favourite Intolerant Suffix is ‘speciesist’ which is actually a psychological term that we were told to use to illustrate how humans believe they are better than many other species. It’s just an irritating word to say or write, I mean, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

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