This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Spot the frippet: philtrum.

So, where do you keep your philtrum?

Oh yes you have.

This rather a nice, trim sort of a word means the indentation to be found in the middle of your upper lip.

According to a Jewish story, God sends an angel to teach the Torah to unborn children, but after the children have learned it all the angel touches the child between lip and nose to make it forget its knowledge, and the philtrum is the finger mark.

Hm. Well, I expect that story makes sense in some other version. There are certainly other stories about the philtrum being caused by the finger of God, anyway.

We humans have only got a small dent for a philtrum, but a dog or a camel, for instance  have much more spendid versions.

A philtrum moustache is one which covers little more than the philtrum. It's the same as a toothbrush moustache, as worn by the film incarnations of Charlie Chaplin and Oliver Hardy.

As well as by Adolf Hitler and Robert Mugabe.

So: a sign of megalomaniac dictators and fools, then.

You have been warned.

Spot the frippet: philtrum. This word is a Latin word, and before that it came from the Greek word philtron, which means love potion.

This is lovely, but quite baffling as far as I'm concerned. I suppose it is close to the Cupid's bow. Could that be something to do with it?


  1. Hmm. Not keen on any moustaches and these are the worst, natch. But like the word, I think...not one I use very often, have to say!

    1. My 4 year old grandson has been attending a Jewish nursery school where he was taught that the indentation is from God's finger. About the same time he was sharing this story, I heard from someplace that if you have one of those horrible leg cramps at night, just press quite hard on your philtrum, wait a minute or so and the cramp will go away. It does work! I also have stopped a sneeze when I have felt one coming on. My theory: it is a very sensitive area of the human body and one that needs more exploring!

    2. It all just gets more interesting and mysterious, doesn't it.

      I wonder if anyone's done a Phd on the philtrum?

      If not, it's clearly time someone did.