If your house is like my house, you have some words that only mean what they mean within your home. Let me give you three examples from Don’s domicile.
1. Froggy-finger chicken (noun)
We have a recipe for chicken that’s been a household favorite for years. It involves dredging chicken breasts in flour, then coating them with slightly diluted beaten eggs, and then rolling each in a mixture of bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese before frying. This process invariably results in flour, egg, and breading accumulating on the tips of your fingers. Your hands end up looking like frog hands. So, of course, we call this recipe froggy-finger chicken.
But that name only exists at my house. I never see froggy-finger chicken on a restaurant menu, in a cookbook, or on any cooking show.
2. Room 47 (noun)
Decades ago, when the firm I worked for was moving our office from Ridge Avenue to a larger space in the old, Clark candy factory, my colleague, Doris, organized the move. To ensure efficiency, she numbered each space in the new office and labeled all our possessions so the movers could put everything exactly where it belonged in the new space. The extra space in the back corner that collected odds and ends that didn't really have an appropriate home in the new space was designated Room 47. That name stuck. For years afterward, Room 47 remained a closed space where objects could be concealed. A space that contained a plethora of strange junk—all of it useless but too valuable to throw away.
Today, here at our house, we have a small storage closet in our basement crammed with holiday decorations, ancient typewriters, jigsaw puzzles, costumes, and much more. Naturally, that space is called Room 47.
3. Mr. Hobbs (verb)
In the mid 1970s, Karen and I foolishly attempted to renovate an old row house in Philadelphia. During the demolition phase we needed to get rid of broken plaster, lath, ancient pipes, rat skeletons, and all the other moldy mysteries that accumulate in a damp basement over the centuries. The answer was Mr. Hobbs—a quiet, lanky, gent in overalls who owned an old stake-bed truck.
A stake-bed truck is simple. Behind the driver's cab there is a big, flat surface surrounded by a fence. Stake-bed trucks are used to haul big loads of unusual shape. Mr. Hobbs and his crew were artists at packing their truck. They emptied room after room of debris and squeezed everything into a towering pile on the truck. Then they disappeared. Magicians.
Imagine our relief as the oppressive, disgusting, stinking detritus of centuries of urban living simply vanished. Swept away by the angel, Mr. Hobbs. Miraculous.
Fifty years later, here at our house, Mr. Hobbs has become a verb meaning the miraculous disappearance of any evil. Furry mystery in the vegetable bin? I Mr. Hobbs'd it.
There are more. Someday, if you are interested, I'll tell you about unk, yuggies, scatterbareebus, and cementitious desserts.
What terms does your family use that only have meaning at your house?
Don—Pittsburgh, December 1, 2021