International Sweet Tooth Fairy Day

Red tape measure. Mouse pad thai. Social butterfly kisses. Ear wax eloquent.

Those congruently incongruous phrases are called sweet tooth fairies, and if they make you smile, you’ll want to celebrate them tomorrow:

This Friday, May 20th, is International Sweet Tooth Fairy Day. Just what is a sweet tooth fairy you may be asking? As described by the coiner of the term, Graham Hidderley/Burgess (better known around these parts as gangerh):

A ‘sweet tooth fairy’ is a FIGURE OF SPEECH. You make one up by finding three words where the first and second words form a known expression, and the second and third words form a known expression, and all three words together make a credible expression

Like. . . well . . . like sweet tooth and tooth fairy make sweet tooth fairy.

And like emotional baggage carousel, and magnetic personality disorder, and unrequited love handles.

The sweet tooth fairy has a few subtypes. From our founder Erin McKean’s article on the subject:

There’s the closed sweet tooth fairy, which begins and ends with the same word, such as run dry run,human being human, and school dance school. . . .There’s also the perfect sweet tooth fairy, a naturally-occurring three-word phrase that can be decomposed, as it were, into two separate two-word phrases: mint chocolate chip, white trash bags, ice cream soda, milk chocolate pudding, modern English usage.

There’s even a term for attempts that don’t quite meet the requirements, like remorse code, or landscapegoat. Hidderley/Burgess calls these false teeth fairies.

In honor of International Sweet Tooth Fairy Day, Hidderly/Burgess has launched a website, Away With the Sweet Tooth Fairies, where new STFairies are added regularly (a few of his current favorites include poker face cream, periodic table manners, pop-ad nauseum), you can check out some illustrated STFairies, as well as submit your own.

Of course Wordnik itself has no lack of STFairy lists, from classic STFairies (made by gangerh himself and still growing), to those with “braces and scaffolding”, to STFairy “dominoes”. Make your own list, add to an already existing one, or submit an STFairy to Hidderly/Burgess’ site. Whatever you do, be sure to have a super Sweet Tooth Fairy day!

Haruspex and sweet tooth fairy

Today’s word of the day is haruspex, which was a priest in ancient Rome who practiced divination by the inspection of the entrails of animals. It’s sometimes used in a literary fashion to refer to any person who tries to predict the future.

Today’s list of the day is Sweet Tooth Fairy, which contains three-part phrases made of two different compound words, so “sweet tooth” and “tooth fairy” combine to form “sweet tooth fairy.” It’s a great road game, too.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I spent some time poking around in the database this week, in anticipation of adding stats showing frequently favorited words and lists. The most favorited list is, happily, gangerh‘s sweet tooth fairy.

The most favorited word is… a disappointment. The second-most is mellifluous, and the bronze goes to loquacious. I had to go all the way to 16th place, interrobang, to find something that wasn’t a retread from the hot 100.

Don’t hold your breath, but these kind of stats will start showing up on the site, someday. Perhaps after one of you suggests a good way to sieve out the interesting stuff.

Also look forward to the ability to add private notes to words, which I worked on recently in Vacationland after bestiary suggested it. That will launch in the next few weeks. I’m hoping this makes Wordie a little more friendly to SAT-prep and ESL users. While us chatty cathys are more visible, the silent majority of Wordies are using the site for vocabulary lists. I’m going to try to add a few small features, starting with notes, to facilitate that kind of educational use. Suggestions to that end are welcome in the comments.