pygostyle

Today is just another day in Canada (the Great White North, where, incidentally, we do not have “black Friday” and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, dammit), but in the US of A it’s possibly the greatest manifestation of herd behaviour in a country that, for all its talk of individualism, has a heck of a lot of groupthink and herd behaviour. I mean, in Canada, we have Thanksgiving in October and it’s a long weekend where you probably go have dinner with your family, probably turkey. But in the US, there’s so much more to it. It’s on a Thursday, and on the day before, half of everyone has to go somewhere they are not. It’s the busiest travel day of the year. Wherever you are, you must go to not-there, at the same time as everyone else and taking the same means of transportation. On the day itself, everyone eats turkey, it has to be turkey, if it’s not turkey you pretend you’re eating turkey or you talk about how you’re not eating turkey, in fact many people call Thanksgiving “turkey day” rather than “Thanksgiving” (like the way Canadians call Victoria Day “May two-four”), and you stuff your face with all sorts of starches and other sides, especially cranberry sauce (if you don’t like cranberry sauce, I’ll have yours – seriously, mail it to me). You pig out, family style – oh, and to really go in style, you have to have pie. Lots of it. And then everyone watches football or something like that and/or snoozes, goes and smokes a stogie, argues about money or politics, and all those other things people do at family gatherings. Meanwhile, you could set up ten pins in the main street of town and have a game of bowling without being disturbed. And then the day after… oh, the horror. Let us not speak of the frenzied mass worship of the dark gods of commercialism, the bacchic fury, the torn garments and rent flesh and tramplings, when WALMART becomes ELPMART backwards. No, let us back up to that turkey for a moment.

Let us back up to the back end of that turkey, in fact. To the opening into which the stuffing was stuffed. There is a little nose of mostly fat there. It’s rather juicy, but a guilty pleasure for those who eat it and really a bit much for many. The same thing may be found on a chicken. So… what do you call that thing?

If you have a name for it, you probably call it the Pope’s nose, bishop’s nose, parson’s nose, or sultan’s nose. But it’s not a nose – it’s where the tail feathers were attached. But it’s not the tail. Turkeys and chickens don’t have tails. (That snake-like thing you may have found in the body cavity where the guts once were is of course the neck. Or what’s left of it.)

Well, someone knows what it’s called. For one, a commenter going by the alias roac on the article “Answers to Every Possible Thanksgiving Health Question” by James Hamblin on theatlantic.com does. What’s the word? Pygostyle.

Not bad: a word with two wishbones y and y (which, by the way, are roughly equivalent to your collarbone). Sort of looks a bit like “pig-out style,” doesn’t it? But don’t be misled by the resemblance to pygmy. The pronunciation is actually like “pie go style.”

The pyg is related to the pyg in callipygian (“nice butt”) and steatopygian (“fat butt”), though in this case the g is not “softened” since there’s a back vowel after it. It comes from Greek πυγή pugé “rump”. The style is not the style as in “You’ve got style” or stylus; those come from a Latin word stilus for a pen, from a root referring to a sharp point. This style comes from Greek στῦλος stulos “pillar”. So pygostyle is a Greek-derived way of making rump-pillar. Although, frankly, its object, in the context of a feast, is more of a rump filler. I’m not saying it’s your ticket from callipygian to steatopygian, but too much of it could certainly affect your style. But you’re not going to get too much pygostyle, anyway, so you’re safe. For which you may give thanks.

Thanks to Doug Linzey for suggesting today’s word.

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