This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Sunday Rest: pumice. Word Not To Use Today.

Here's a tough little word that always comes out fighting.


If it were pronounce PEWmiss then it might be rather sweet, in a spinster-cycling-to-church sort of way, but PUMMiss is like being pummelled and spat upon.

I can't deny that Pumice Country, in the North Island of New Zealand, seems to be an interesting, atmospheric place:

A Creek in the Rough Country
photo by E Earle Vaile

And I can't deny that pumice is useful: ground up and made into concrete it was used to make the dome of the Pantheon:

Pumice also used in polishes, erasers, toothpastes, and is the 'stone' bit in the stone-washed jeans process.

It's formed in a most exciting way, too - thrown out of a volcano so rapidly that the gases inside it expand and form bubbles before the rock can solidify.

But I don't care. Even if pumice is worth its weight in gold and cures the common cold, it still punches your earholes rather painfully, and I don't like it.

Word Not To Use Today: pumice. This word comes from the Latin pūmex. Which sounds horrible, too.


  1. I quite agree.
    It's good stuff, and deserves a gentler pronunciation!
    Let it be so! :)

  2. Thanks, Jingles. We could do with a synonym, couldn't we, but I haven't been able to find one.
    Something to do with foam or bubbles or lava or volcanoes? Lavafoam? Nah, that's too heavy, and anyway it sounds like something you'd put on lavabread.
    The German is Bimmstein, and bimstone sounds fun. How about that?

  3. Much nicer, and yes, fun too.
    It will hereforth be known as bimstone! :)
    Thank you!

  4. Whatever it's called, it's still stuff that people scour their calloused feet with - it needs a tough name just to survive that.

  5. You fill me with horror and pity. I hereby christen the stuff evangeline to make it feel more loved.

  6. Very fond of my pumice stone! I believe you can rid yourself of limescale with it but have yet to try that.

    1. Dunk evangeline down a toilet? Good grief. So there ARE worse jobs than being a writer.