Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

camstairy coccygodynians August 27, 2012

I think my favorite line from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon might be in Drums of Autumn when Roger observes,

“Coccygodynians are camstairy by nature”

An English teacher, by nature, is thoroughly entertained by word play, and delighted with novel phraseology.  Gabaldon frequently provides such fun, and that quote is an example.  Roger and Bree are playing The Minister’s Cat, a word game where they work through the alphabet, labelling the poor cat with adjectives of increasing complexity.  They called this round a draw.

For your edification: coccygodynia is a pain in the region of the coccyx (tail bone), so Bree’s doctor mother identified the hospital administrators as coccygodynians,  i.e.  “pains in the butt.”  Camstairy is a little more layered.  It’s a Scot’s term that Roger claims means ‘quarrelsome,’ but assorted on-line dictionaries offer definitions of ‘unmanageable,’ ‘unruly,’ and ‘obstinate,’ which add some colourful possibilities!

I trust that your day will be free from camstairy coccygodynians! 😉

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5 Responses to “camstairy coccygodynians”

  1. Wonderful wordplay. There are so many more words that entertain and confuse that have gone out of use that would be a delight to see back in print. No wonder my favourite game is Balderdash.

    • Shawn Bird Says:

      I love it, too, but no one will play with me, since I always win.

      I can almost hear you saying, “Balderdash, young man!” 🙂 Is your accent Welsh? Or did you move to Wales later?

  2. Lena Says:

    LOL no it’s not free of them, entirely too many of them in fact! However, I loved this line from her book too. I just finished Drums of Autumn and can’t wait to get the next one!

    • Shawn Bird Says:

      I’m sorry to hear of your over-abundance of coccygodynians.

      Gabaldon is such a brilliant author, isn’t she? I’m so excited to be meeting with her this fall! (53 days…) Every one of her characters is richly layered. Even the bystanders offer a wealth of possibility. Enjoy Fiery Cross. They’re still at the gathering for quite a while in that one… One gets weary of the gathering, though I suspect Claire did as well!

  3. […] here to read a blog about CAMSTAIRY COCCYGODYNIANS.  Those are two of my favourite Gabaldon vocabulary words.  They’re from Drums of Autumn. […]


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