Word Dissection: Flangiprop

Thanks to Daily Prompt for the idea!

WordPress has become so popular in the last few years that it now has its own dictionary to rival the great Oxford English Dictionary, but there was an unusual entry hidden among the internet slang; flangiprop.

So what does it mean?

Looking at the word from an amateur etymologist’s point of view it seems in a rather germanic way 3 seperate words have been put together; flan-, gi- and prop-.

Flan: We all know this is a form of tart, probably from the old germanic word flado meaning offering cake or the dutch word vla meaning baked custard. However, it also used to be an uncommon word for an arrow, and although its origins are unknown it is believed the original word had a meaning similar to ‘splinter’, and until around 5 Centuries ago in Scottland it meant an arrow-like marking on a map.

Gi-: Obviously this isn’t a word but could refer to the word gib, which was the name for a kind of 16th Century iron hook and in the 19th Century meant a piece of wood/metal etc which held something else in position. Though it is more likely it refers in this case to the word gibe, an unusual spelling of jibe, meaning agree/fit, and speculation suggests itstems from different pronounciation of the word chime in the sense that it means to be in harmony with something.

Prop: An object used in a performance originated as a shortened version of properties in around the 1400’s. Yet it also has an alternative definition of support, possibly from the german verb pfropfen which nowadays carries the sense of to plug, graft or cork.

After all of that, the best definition of flangiprop would be an agreement to support, and therefore more abstractly encourage, the eating of flans and other cake, or more simply, someone who is against healthy eating.

Basically, the definition of a flangiprop is….


…Homer Simpson of course!

Cable Car Ride

cable car

At 200 feet, the car edged along the once new cables. Rivers of rust flowed unbroken through the chipped red paint of the exterior.

Inside, sheltered from the elements, a lone boy shifted his wait from foot to foot in anticipation.

300 feet. The battered car let out a low moan as it continued to shuffle skywards. The laboured cables crackled sharply in response.

The boy’s eyes scanned the interior. They hooked onto a sign, reading, “Maximum 25 persons.” His eyes swept through the cramped space in a frantic attempt to count the bodies.

As the boy continue to count, and then recount, hoping to prove himself wrong, the battered vehicle came to a halt. A light breeze, as if sensing a new target, picked up its steady rhythm, leaving the car swaying from side to side.

30. The boy had finished counting. His heart rate accelerated as he felt the nauseating sensation of the sway. With his head spinning, he tried to choke out a warning, but the words wouldn’t come.

The engines back at base, far below, began to cough and moan as they restarted the cars unsteady assent to the peak.

Back inside, there was a variety of people. A young couple were with their son, an older man with a pipe leaning against the window, a little girl dressed in pink bouncing on her father’s knee. All those people had one thing in common. They were oblivious to what could happen. All accept one. The boy.

The engines were strained, and with a final cry of defeat they faltered once more. Then nothing. Deafening Silence. The car was on its own now.

The boy realized something was going to happen. Good or bad; he’d have to wait and see. He searched the confined compartment, seeking a glimmer of hope, of rescue. A rope. It was curled up like a sleeping snake on the floor, opposite him. And he had an idea.

Outside the first of three, seemingly sturdy cables began to unravel itself, as if it believed the car was a monster and it couldn’t get away fast enough.

The people inside felt their stomachs lurch uneasily as the car fell. Realising the implications of their situation, one by one they froze, like a game of musical statues. As the car slowly steadied itself, the boy began to scream at them. They stared back with blank faces, a dullness in their eyes. Fear. There were no screams, but an eerie silence, louder than thunder, descended like a thick fog on the passengers.

A few broke themselves free from their zombie-like trance, panic stricken, they quickly followed the instructions the boy was yelling at them.

His idea was simple. There were two long ropes which would end three or four feet off the ground. Objectives: Slide down, Jump, run.

The emergency exit door groaned in protest as it was hitched open. The rope was dragged across the metal floor and dropped. They had to hurry before it was too late. Just don’t look down…

350feet to the snowy wasteland beneath. The second cable began to retreat into itself, buckling. Individual fibres snapped, one at a time.

15…18…20. The boy was helping organize the safe descent of his comrades. He was no longer afraid, as he felt optimism and sheer focus on what he was doing. His duty.

The second cable gave way. The car lurched forward, dropping once more.

21…23…25. 5 more civilians left to go. Those already down, against all odds, began their marathon run for shelter.

The car began to sway violently. It lurched forward, backwards. Again and again. There were only 3 people left: The boy and the father clutching his little girl.

They were pushed about by invisible forces as the boy helped the pair to descend. He knew at that moment, when a sharp snapping sound reached his ears, that he may be too late. Before their feet could reach the ground, he leaped after them. Panic seeped steadily, like a lion cautiously stalking its prey, through every bone in his body.

The last cable detached itself swiftly from the car with an ear splitting snarl. It quickly gained speed as it prepared for its collision with the solid earth.

The boy had hit down hard on the surface. He bent over, aiming to catch his breath. Before he could look up and see his fate coming towards him at 100 miles per hour, his instincts made him dive forward. With his last burst of strength he turned himself around and pushed back, just in time to see the car crumple on the ground, inches from where his foot had just been. The deafening sound of the sudden impact roared through the valley, up to the highest mountain peaks.

Slowly, the boy regained control of himself. He looked dead ahead. Just two more inches and… He banished that thought from his now weary mind. He had help the others flee.

He had survived.


The Warehouse

The abandoned warehouse has not been used in years. The small city windows are all boarded up. As you stare through the open door, the shadows seem to dnace menacingly, creeping ever closer towards you. As you step cautiously inside, you are hit with the smell of rotting flesh. The sound of dripping draws you down one dull, damp corridor after another. The old rusty doors on either side of you refuse to open. They feel cold and slimy. You come across a grand hall, stacked to the ceiling with cardboard boxes. Bubble wrap and other packaging is scattered around carelessly. Someone was looking for something. As you walk towards some steep steps leading to the next floor, you feel as though you are being watched. A cold breeze blows towards you, willingly you to turn back. You can hear footsteps around the corner. As you walk towards the noise, you see what seems to be red paint scattered on the floor. Turning the corner into an office, you see papers in disorganised heaps on the floor. The light bulb above you begins to crackle and flicker in anticiption. You walk down a passageway into a small room. A beam of light, seemingly from nowhere, shines onto an old, dusty book. As you open it intrigued, you discover what it is; a diary of a young girl. The last page is not finished, it end in a long line going across the page and  you notice there are scratch marks on a neaby box. You can smell smoke, as if someone has lit a fire next to you. In the adjoinging room, there is a small fireplace with a raging fire burning inside. Heat and light leads you towards the discovery of shelf upon shelf of plants in black, plastic pots, as if someone had turned the wall had been turned into an indoor greenhouse. Perplexed, you move on. The last room upstairs is completely empty except for a single bloodstained cloth. You go back down to the ground floor by a creaky lift. Just as you are about to leave, you hear the sound of smashing glass. A hole in the wall takes you to an unlit room you missed before, with a sturdy iron door. In the corner you see what seems to be a life-size doll, but as you come closer you realise it is a young girl, about 13, lying motionless on the floor. The pieces of the puzzle finally piece themselves together in your mind. You run for the door but it slowly closes in front of you. You realise where you are, and why no one dares to come here. It is the place for a murderer and his victims.

English-French Idioms

German is not the only language with some idioms that sound ridiculous when translated into English! Here is a selection of my favourite french idioms 🙂

C’est pas tes oignons

What does this phrase mean? None of your onions! Err, I mean business. And I know some of you, like me with only GCSE-level French, will be wondering why there is no ‘ne’, but I can assure you that it is apparently common in informal French (and hence why you probably weren’t taught it in your formal French lessons!)

Avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre:

Literally it means ‘to have the butter and the money from the butter’ and so the corresponding English phrase is obviously ‘to have one’s cake and eat it’. It’s actually quite a new phrase with its origin unknown, but ‘beurre’ did used to be slang for money, rather like the English equivalent of ‘dough’!

Mettre sa langue dans sa poche

Whether anyone really has the physical capabilities required to carry out the instruction of putting their tongue in their pocket is beyond me – although I suppose it is no less silly than the literal meaning of to hold one’s tongue!

Quand les poules auront des dents

This phrase should probably be made redundant due to a study in 2006 that found that although rare, there are some mutant chickens born each year with teeth, and with advancements in gene therapies it probably is quite possible to engineer chickens with teeth, whereas I am pretty certain pigs that can fly are still a way off!


Raconter des salades

At first glance it seems, to me atleast, quite confusing as to why the french version of to tell lies/to spin yarns translates literally as to tell salads, but Laura K. Lawless from about.com expained the reasoning well; ”..it offers a great image. Start with a bed of lettuce background, add some tomato and carrots for color, flesh it out with a bit of ham or chicken, and dress it up with vinaigrette for a delicious and believable story. ”

Vendre la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué

The French join sides with the Germans with this idiom, as it once again comes from a hunter’s point of view, and means to not sell the bear skin before killing the bear, compared to our farmer’s equivalent of not counting the chickens before they’ve hatched.

Passer comme une lettre à la poste

I’m not sure what the french postal service is like, but I don’t think a phrase comparing the Roayl Mail to everything going smoothly would work as well in this country!

English-German Idioms

English is ram-packed full of idiomatic phrases, and although you can on occasion translate them directly into another language, most of the time the translation will be complete nonsense! So here’s a list of 10 commonly used English idioms with their equally idiomatic German equivalents 🙂

Idiom: to be on cloud nine

Transaltion: auf Wolke sieben schweben/sich im siebenten Himmel befinden

This literally translates as to hover over cloud seven or to find oneself in the seventh sky/heaven


Idiom: to give someone a taste of their own medicine

Translation: es jdm. mit gleicher Münze heimzahlen

Literally this means to pay someone back with the same coin.


Idiom: That’ll be the day

Translation: das möchte ich einmal erleben

Possibly not as good for sarcasm as the English version, it translates as ‘I’d like to experience that one day’

Idiom: Get lost! Beat it!

Translation: Mach ‘ne Fliege!

Although there is a wide range of ways to translate this phrase, this has to be my favourite because of how absurd the direct translation sounds; ‘Do a fly!’


Idiom: Beggars can’t be choosers

Translation: In der Not schmeckt jedes Brot.

In my opinion the German version is much more polite, and it means ‘In adversity all bread tastes good’

Idiom: Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched

Translation: Man soll das Fell des Bären nicht verteilen, bevor man ihn erlegt hat.

Hunting is referenced in this saying, with the meaning being; ‘Don’t divide the bear skin before you’ve killed the bear’

Idiom: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Translation: Was Hänschen nicht lernt, lernt Hans nimmermehr/Alte Bäume soll man nicht verpflanzen/ Der Mensch ist ein Gewohnheitstier.

These three phrases literally mean ‘What little Hans doesn’t learn, will old Hans never learn’, ‘Old trees shouldn’t be replanted’ and ‘Man is a creature of habit’.


Idiom: To be in the doghouse

Translation: der Haussegen hängt schief

This translates as ‘Domestic bliss is hanging askew’. Be careful when you use it though, as it takes bei plus the dative personal pronoun e.g. to say ‘I’m in the doghouse’ is the translation ‘Bei mir hängt der Haussegen schief’


Idiom: Good things come to those who wait

Translation: Geduld bringt Rosen

A sweet saying meaning ‘patience brings roses’

Idiom: the middle of nowhere

Translation: wo sich Fuchs und Hase gute Nacht sagen

Literally it means ‘where the fox and hare say good night’

Word Dissection: Chemistry

Although some words in chemistry are obvious at a glance as to why they are what they are e.g. hydrocarbons are called hydrocarbons because they contain simply carbon and hydrogen, where do we get the chemical words with a less obvious meaning from?


Monomer: the simplest repaet unit.      

Mono means one and the Greek meros means part.


Atmosphere: The gases surrouding a planet.

From the Greek where Atmos, meaning Steam/vapor, and spharia meaning spherical.


Aldehyde: an oxidised primary alcohol, it contains the -CHO group.

Abbreviation of modern Latin name alcohol dehydrogenatum.


Ester: the product of the reaction between carboxylic acids and alcohols.

Possibly an abbreviation of the german word Essigäther (ethyl acetate), where Essig means vinegar and Äther means ether.


Titration: a method of chemical analysis

From the french titrer meaning title or standard.


Alkali: a water-soluble base

From the Arabic al-qaliy meaning ashes


Elements: the different types of atom

From the latin elementum which means a matter in its most basic form           .


Equation: a formula which equates the reactants in a reaction with the products.

From the latin aequationem which means a community or equal distribution.



A combination of the greek oxys, meaning sharp or acid, and genes, meaning formation or creation. French chemist Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier invented the name oxygène as at the time it was thought that oxygen was vital when it came to forming acids.

Gothic Stories

The centuries before the Victorian period, citizens of the UK lead a life mainly dominated by Christianity. Yet a huge advancement in scientific and astronomical knowledge, including Darwinism, as well as industrialisation lead to a more “enlightened education”, meaning people in society began to reject the notion of God. From this, those of the Victorian era believed there was nothing that could not be explained in a logical way. The fictional character of Sherlock Homes was born from this time and embodied the thought that seemingly impossible situations can be solved by applying logic and reason. However, this shift in the perception of the world did not mean that generation old superstitions were no longer relevant. No electricity meant homes were lit by candle during the night, distorting the shape of ordinary items into more sinister forms. Confusion brought about from this undermined the rational views, playing on people’s fear of the unknown, ere irrational fears developed from what couldn’t be seen rather than what could.

The tell tale heart by Edgar Allen Poe, The monkey’s Paw by W.W Jacobs and The red room by H.G wells are three examples of the gothic ghost story genre, that adhere to certain conventions to create the atmosphere and tension in the story.

The most prominent of these conventions is atmosphere and weather, where the stereotypical parts of the story such as being set in a castle, with an inexplicable event occurring are found.

In the Red Room the story begins with a description of the use of candles in the room to see, and the presence of a burning fire. Both of these suggest the story is set at night, giving the atmosphere a degree of uncertainty as night is the time of day when the most scary and eerie events take place. The fire also suggests that the characters are safe by this one fire as it acts as a shelter, but out of the reach of its warmth and light is the fearfulness of the unknown. The fact that 3 of the characters are huddled close together by this fire when the narrator enters the room also hints that they have been frightened by some unknown entity, and alerts the reader that something is not correct within the home. The narrator writes “the three of them made me uncomfortable”, suggesting a tense and awkward atmosphere between the characters, as the narrator isn’t certain of what he should expect from those before him. When walking through the passageways to the Red room, the writer comments that his “candle flared and made the shadows cower and quiver”, and that the shadows falling on white panelling gave “th impression of someone crouching to waylay” him. Both of these quotes suggests the writer is not alone in the passage and that somebody else is present. This creates a tense atmosphere as the reader does not know for sure whether another person is present, and that f they are, whether they intent to do the writer harm.

The monkey’s paw also uses the atmosphere and weather well to create the eerie mood. Pathetic fallacy, where the weather is personified to hint at later events in the story, is used as “the night was wet and cold”, indicating bad and dismal weather, so as a reflection something bad will occur later on in the story. A turning point in the story is where the “gate banged” and “heavy footsteps” could be heard. From this the reader knows something is approaching, and the story is about to change, as heavy footsteps and loud noises do not complement a warm and quiet family atmosphere. The sergeant major says one of his lines “offhandedly”, making him seem uncomfortable about talking about the paw, so the reader wonders what bad things could possible be associated with just an ordinary little paw.

During the Tell tale heart, the room is said to be “as black as pitch with the thick darkness” and that only “a single thin ray” of light “fell upon the vulture eye”. The darkness plays on the fear of the unknown, as in the dark your senses are limits as you can’t see what lies directly ahead of you. The light shining down on that one specific point in the room highlights the hideousness of the eye, which is a terrifying image.

Another main convention of the gothic genre is the style in which it is written. The style can convey deliberate traits about a character you would not otherwise pick up on, as well as drum into your mind specific haunting phrases that create a darker image in your mind.

“It increased my fury as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage” is a powerful simile that stands out it the Tell Tale heart. It creates tension by suggesting the character is about to burst out in a fit of rage and violence, as a soldier does when called into battle. The narrator is adamant that “there was nothing to wash out – no stain of any kind – no blood spot whatsoever”. This uses the power of three to help maintain the unusual image in the reader’s mind, as after a killing you expect a lot of blood. He goes on to say that he “had been too wary for that”, suggesting he is highly intelligent and calculated, yet also mad as he seems to have acquired an obsession over not being caught out, portraying the stereotypical and frightening type of character who goes crazy with power and knowledge. His delicate frame of mind is also shown in his language used. “This I thought and this I think” is a strange way of phrasing the sentence, again indicating the man is infact mad, no matter how many times he denies it.

In the Red Room, particular words including “Red”, “blood”, “darkness” and “shadow” are heavily repeated throughout the story to create tension, as darkness and shadows cause confusion so are therefore scary, and all but the latter are associated with death. The narrator frequently asks himself questions such as “Did I do that myself in a flash of absent-mindedness” and “what’s up” which both make him appear to be worried and strange as he seems to be incoherent and not totally aware of his surroundings. Furthermore, from this the reader will question if he does not know himself what is happening or who did these things, who or what did, creating more tension as the reader anticipates the answer. While making his way towards the red room he “was about to advance and stopped abruptly”. The punctuation together with the word abruptly makes you pause along with the story, making you question what will happen next.

When the sergeant in the monkey’s paw is asked whether he has had his free wishes he replied “I have…quietly and his blotchy face whitened”, making the reader wonder what his wishes were and what bad things the monkey’s paw did to him to make him appear scared with a pale face rather than smile when he thinks about the consequences. The sergeant also says that “the first man had his three wishes….the third was for death” builds more tension as the reader wonders how his first two wishes, which were likely to be simple wishes for personal gain such as more money for example, could ultimately lead to a situation so bad that the best option left is to wish for your own life to be taken, because wishes are magical things that normally give happiness to those granted them.

The final convention placed into these gothic stories is that of supernatural elements. These add the most mystery and fear as they are hard, if not impossible to explain logically.

In the monkey’s paw, the paw is often referred to as a “talisman”, which suggests the use of magic. It is also mysterious, and the reader is confused as to why it is not simply called the monkey’s paw. “Pulsating shadows” are mentioned which creates the image of the shadows being alive and moving independently, rather than the object that created them being moved, which is impossible. The house itself is “steeped in shadow and silence”, typifying the stereotypical haunted graveyard, where ghosts are believed to roam, suggesting the presence of many supernatural creatures in and around the house. At the end of the story, Mr White says “For God’s sake, don’t let it in”. Referring to the thing outside the reader believes to be the couple’s dead son as an “it” rather than “he” is frightening as it suggests he s so deformed that he is no longer recognisable as human, and deformed creatures are often associated with violence and danger, as they are unknown, instilling fear into the reader’s minds for the couple.

The red room mentions “an invisible hand”. The narrator is speaking of something that cannot be seen, and also something that is impossible as a hand can be seen, adding to the fear and tension of the Victorian reader because they would have been easily frightened by unexplainable and mysterious objects such as invisible hands. One man tells the narrator that “if you go to the red room tonight, you go alone”. The woman cuts in ion the middle saying “this night of all nights”. This gives the impression that something terrifying has previously occurred in the room, and all three have witnessed it explaining their determination to stay as far away from the room as possible. Also, this implies it is not safe to proceed to the room, so tension is create as it suggests the narrator may come to harm by going there, especially on that day, as the woman repeats “this night of all nights” hinting that the narrators visit will generate far worse consequences than normal.

All three of these gothic stories adhere to the conventions of the period such as atmosphere and weather, style and the inclusion of supernatural entities to create tension, suspense, mystery and fear to create an interesting and gripping story.