Friday, September 9, 2011


by Sheila Connolly

I woke up the other morning with a word ringing in my head. It came at the end of a half-waking dream, in which a long table was surrounded by people who stood up and proclaimed as one, "Jid!"

The problem is, it's not a word, at least not one I've ever heard. But on the off chance that my subconscious was trying to tell me something, or I was channeling a higher power, I went online hunting. So far no definitions, but a lot of acronyms:

Jabber IDentifier

Janes Intelligence Digest (military/government)

Job Instruction Document (computing)

Joint Intelligence Directorate

Joint Interoperability Division

Journal of Infectious Diseases

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities

Journal of Investigative Dermatology

Junta Interamericana de Defensa

I don't know of any reason why any of these should be floating around in my head. Personally I hope that I was thinking of the Joint Intelligence Directorate rather than the Journal of Intellectual Disabilities.

In addition, Webster's Online Dictionary kindly provided me with two non-English uses:

In Lebanese, jid means grandfather

In Nauruan, jid means to throw, sling, skid, hurl or pitch. (In case you aren't familiar with Nauru, it's an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific—I had to look it up). I have no Lebanese or Nauruan relatives.

So why am I making up nonsense words in my dreams? I blame Scrabble.

In case you didn't notice, New England had a visitor named Irene last week, and as a result, many homes, including ours, lost power for varying lengths of time. It's depressing to realize how much our daily lives have been taken over by electronic entertainment. I can't tell you the number of times I reached for the remote control to turn on a television, if only to get updates on the crummy weather and the destruction it was wreaking, only to realize that there was nothing there. My husband was out of town, in a drier state, leaving my daughter and me to entertain each other in the dark. We chose Scrabble, by candlelight.

My daughter was a comparative literature major in college, and I'm a writer. So why were we coming up with scintillating words like "poop"? It's all in the luck of the draw. At one point I had four "n's" and three "I's" which does not make for good (i.e., high scoring) words, or any words at all, for that matter. We played two games in the dark (which presents particular challenges, since you can't see your tiles half the time), and she beat me both times, but by only a few points.

But what was interesting about playing with my daughter was not the words we did come up with, but the words we invented along the way (we stuck to the rules--honest). There were a few discussions about when a foreign word became accepted and commonly used in English, and the same for slang terms. We're both mildly competitive, and we both love language, so sometimes it actually hurt when we inserted only a couple of letters to make fabulous words like "be" or "if" when that would yield the highest score. We wanted more flair, more complexity. We were prepared to create interesting new words and defend them with convincing definitions.

Hence, jid. What do you think a jid is? Animal, vegetable or mineral? Historic or modern?

And can I use it in a Scrabble game?


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Sheila, you brought back memories for me. When I was a kid, my parents, my sister, and I played many games of fairly competitive Scrabble (my parents were lawyers, mom a legal writer/editor and dad one of those folks who did the NY Times crossword puzzle in ink). My father used to infuriate us by using the word "id," which the rest of us refused to believe was a word. This was many years, of course, before I became a clinician--not a Freudian, but you don't go through social work school without hearing all about the id (or growing up without experiencing it, come to think of it).

Stephanie Evans said...

I say it's a sotto voce snark remark, and you can use it on my Scrabble board any time I'm at least 100 points ahead of you.

JJM said...
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