Monday, February 23, 2015

On Hissy-Fitting and Lickety-Splitting

Great Big Baby Dog Woodrow, Old Lady Dog Callie, and I were lying on our bellies looking out my attic-bedroom window at 6:15 this morning.  Snuggling in bed with your dogs looking out the window together in the early morning is one of the great pleasures of life.  I commend it to you.

While we were gazing at the ice-covered woods, the dogs began throwing a hissy-fit.  If you are not from the American south, you may not know that a hissy-fit is a tantrum.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines hissy-fit as a sudden period of uncontrolled and silly anger like a child’s.  I do not think people from Cambridge throw hissy-fits. 

In addition, one does not HAVE a hissy-fit.  One THROWS a hissy-fit.  I do not know why.  

Perhaps it’s because throw is a strong verb.  A good hissy-fit is always thrown.  Most recently I threw a hissy-fit when I dropped my phone in the bath.

But back to the dogs’ hissy-fit.  They threw it because Young Red Fox was lickety-splitting down the cart path. 

The Oxford Dictionary defines lickety-split thus: as quickly as possible.  OD says lickety-split is an adverb, but I prefer it as a verb.  I know the word more intimately than the writers of OD do because I’ve been lickety-splitting all my life, and I doubt that anyone who ever worked on the Oxford Dictionary has ever lickety-splitted.  I can’t imagine a wizened don sitting in a dusty library telling another wizened don, “I need a definition of perspicacious lickety-split.”

Please note that I like verbing nouns, adjectives, and adverbs.  Lickety-splitting is a more powerful verb than running lickety-split.

Lest you wonder whether verbing is a verb, it is.  Antimeria/anthimeria is the act of changing one part of speech into another, such as verbing.    If you change the word, it’s a derivation.  If you don’t change the word, it’s a conversion or a zero derivation.

Lest you think this essay is pointless, let me assure you that I have a point: life is too short to throw hissy-fits by annoyances lickety-splitting through our lives.  Like other people’s antimeria:  Yesterday I was lickety-splitting past another white-haired woman who was throwing a hissy-fit about her daughter-in-law’s use of the word cocooning, as in, “We’re staying home cocooning this weekend.” 

I wanted to say, “Lady, at our age, life is too short for throwing hissy-fits.

“Instead, we should each go home and snuggle on our beds with our dogs and gaze into the snow-filled woods.” 

Dogs who get hissyfied by foxes lickety-splitting by.

Hissyfied?  One of my favorite antimeria is making predicate adjectives by adding fied to almost any part of speech.  So I hope you have been smartified today because I taught you about antimeria/anthimeria. 

And I hope you stop lickety-splitting for the rest of the day, get unhissyfied, and go snuggle with your dogs on your bed and stare out the window together. And thus be blessifed.


  1. Wow! And I just thought a hissy-fit was a hissy-fit. I have thrown a few in my life.