Entertaining us with ultracrepidarian comments

Anodyne. Now there's a word. And it's everywhere these days - EVERYWHERE! Anodyne!

Actually, strictly speaking, it isn't everywhere, but it was used twice in very important places at the beginning of last week, and when you see an unusual word all over the media to that extent, then you know there is a new elephant in the room.

Anodyne first came up when National Radio grabbed former All Black hooker and captain Anton Oliver to comment on early All Black form at the World Cup.

Oliver, who has learned many many words since being, merely, one of the All Black tight five, who, if World Health Organisation literary percentage figures are to be believed, rarely rise above 43 or 45, asked his interviewer how deep he wanted her to go.

He said he didn't want to be anodyne.

Which, subsequently, he delightfully and educatively was not.

Then we had Tim Groser bailed up in the high court by Prof Jane Kelsey, defending his right to not reveal hard details of TTPA's 30,000 pages of documents.

Mr Groser, it was claimed, had released only anodyne information, as in the times of the meetings and how many chairs there were around the table.

Very damn anodyne when you come right down to it.

Words are beautiful lovely things.

It is virtually impossible to be anodyne discussing such a topic, so I will turn the talking over to one of the many hundreds of daily email services I subscribe to - Wordsmith.

Some people just like getting lots of email, from Wotif travel information to the one-day auction sites, it's all about self-worth and seeming to have more friends than you actually have.

Wordsmith gives me a fabulous word nearly every day and carefully explains its parentage, pronunciation and meaning.

Occasionally they toss out something anodyne, a word I knew when I was only 52, but that is a rarity.

Mostly they enrich my vocabulary and conversation for the day ahead like whipped cream enriches pavlova.

The beauty of Wordsmith words, beside their numerous syllables and spectacular sonic effect , is that they can be used around cafe tables with such ease and nonchalance on everyday topics of conversation, like television, that it is a real surprise to me Wordsmith isn't delivered to everyone every day as constitutional law.

This would make us a far better nation, it would improve schooling as we finally begin talking intelligently to our children, and it would make cafe eavesdropping enormous fun.


A pretentious display of superficial knowledge.

This is what Mike Hosking does nightly every time he opens his mouth on Seven Sharp.


Insipid ideas.

Mike Hosking regularly has these on Seven Sharp.


Giving opinions beyond one's ability.

Seven Sharp host Mike Hosking does this quite a lot.


Cheap and showy.

This reminds me of Mike Hosking's frequent references to his Ferrari on Seven Sharp.


To confuse.

Mike Hosking bumfuzzles us every night on Seven Sharp.

You see?

Wordsmith can work seamlessly hand in glove to make us all better people.

I do not use the wonders of Wordsmith in this column for that would be literary theft, an intellectual property issue, like what the TTPA is threatening to emasculate us with.

So I make up words heavily influenced by Wordsmith, words that sound as though they are real but aren't, words that obey most rules of derivation and words that suggest meaning by their sound.

Gugwugulous, for example, would be an over-ripe man who makes a lot of noise when swallowing.

Some readers will have noticed words like this and assumed I have no brain and cannot spell.

True but irrelevant.

These made-up words are genuine.

There will come a time when I mutate anodyne, but let's leave that one hollering unheard in the media marketplace.

It would be anodyneric to do anything less.

• Roy Colbert is a Dunedin writer.

Add a Comment




Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter