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Every year at about this time, the Scripps Spelling Bee presents oddball or obscure words we'd otherwise never see. Here are some from the Bee recently completed. Today's word is the one that stumped the youngest of the semi-finalists, who is only 9 years old.

fodientadj.: (of animals) digging or burrowing
[Latin fodere to dig]
    The Mole is essentially a woodland animal … , but it readily adapted to open pastures and arable land. Since those times this small, fodient animal has been one of the most universally troublesome of agricultural pests.
    – Roger Lovegrove, Silent Fields: The long decline of a nation's wildlife (2008)

    This diminutive burrowing armadillo is indeed one of the marvels of the class of Mammals. Such are its fodient powers, says Mr. White, "that a man has scarcely time to dismount from his horse before the creature has buried itself to the depth of its own body."
    – Nature, July 7, 1881
 
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One of yesterday's "burrowing" quotes described a mole.

I digress to present two interesting antique names for this creature, each very aptly noting its burrowing nature. At their starts, one name was akin to wander, and meant "turning"; the other was akin to mold, for "earth, dirt". Each had the ending warpe, meaning "to toss or throw" (akin to our warp). Thus the names for this critter literally meant "turn-tosser" or "earth-tosser".

wandewoerpe – Old English for "mole" (later shortened to wante or want)
mouldwarp – a mole

Each has many variant spellings.
    For the Heades of everie Moldwarpe or Wante one halfpeny.
    – Eng. statute (1566), An Acte for p'servacon of Grayne

    Moles – 'waunts' or 'mouldiwarps' to use two of their old vernacular names – have undoubtedly been a pest since Man first cleared the forest.
    – Roger Lovegrove, same cite as yesterday

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tourelle – a turret
    … all at once, I saw a château before me, not a quarter of a mile off … . Large, stately, and dark was its outline against the dusky night-sky; there were pepper-boxes, and tourelles, and what not, fantastically growing up into the dim star-light.
    – Elizabeth Gaskell, Curious, if True (short story)
 
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I tend to avoid presenting food-words, because the sample quotes for them are rarely useful. For example, "He ate a meal of ________," tells you nothing about the food in question. The blank could just as easily read "roast beef" or "whitefish" or "termites". But in this case I can offer you a quote that gives you a concrete image of our particular food, tagliatelle.

tagliatelle – pasta in narrow ribbons [from Italian tagliare to cut]
[Does tagliatelle differ from fettuccine, whose name comes from fettucia ribbon?]
    She ordered tagliatelle. No surrender. She refused to stick to a manageable datelike meal that left no room for unsightly accidents. So what if the tagliatelle hung in unruly strands from the fork as she raised it to her mouth? So what if some of it swung against her chin, coating it in porcini sauce? It showed she didn't care. She'd have ordered spinach, hoping to get it caught between her teeth, but, sadly, it wasn't on the menu.
    – Marian Keyes, Last Chance Saloon
 
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guayabera – a light open-necked men's shirt, of Cuba and Mexico: usually with large pockets and pleats down the front, and worn outside the pants

The style is familiar, even if the name is not. Politicians can use this shirt to "connect" with Cubans:
    The guayabera, the traditional Cuban men's shirt, was an untraditional look for Mitt Romney as he spoke to mostly Cuban supporters yesterday.
    – Boston Globe, Jan. 28, 2008
Similarly, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has made something of a trademark of a red guayabera linking himself with Castro's communist (Red) Cuba.
 
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Our colleagues in the Philippines might claim precedent with the barong...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barong_Tagalog


RJA
 
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