Antepenultimas

That’s the twenty-ninth of December in layman’s terms. The day before the next to last day of the year. Ok, not really. In fact, it’s the plural of “antepenultima” which is a term in poetry referring to the syllable before the next to last syllable of a word. Let me explain the reason I would offer such a silly fake definition of an obscure word…

‘Twas the night before Antepenultimas. Dad, Alice, and I were discussing Christmas. Alice noted that Christmas is short for “Christ’s Mass.” There were many such masses dedicated to saints, Dad explained to us, holidays such as Michaelmas. I wondered what other ancient Christian holidays ended in “mas,” and so I looked it up. The result was utterly uninformative, but did lead to me making up a holiday for December 29th wherein ancient Christians celebrated St. Antepenulti, the patron saint of the day before the next to last day of the year. In addition, this led to a wonderful game one can play in the car or at home.

Allow me to demonstrate:

“What is the ancient Christian holiday celebrating the patron saint of movie theaters?”

Answer: Cinemas (be sure to pronounce the “mas” as in Christmas)

“What is the ancient Christian holiday celebrating the patron saint of bedclothes?”

Answer: Pajamas

“What is the ancient Christian holiday celebrating the patron saint of mid-sentence punctuation?”

Answer: Commas 

“What is the ancient Christian holiday that in modern day has become known as ‘Mother’s day?'”

Answer: Mamas

“What is the ancient Christian holiday celebrating the patron saint of large, curly-haired animals?”

Answer: Llamas

I played this with Alice and Dad. The mas list requires a little searching to find recognizable words among all the obscure medical terms, but was such a hit that Alice insisted we play it again with her mother Carol and brother Geoffrey. Let me say right here, Alice’s mother Carol is astounding at the mas game. Once she understood the rules, I don’t think she missed a single word.

For your convenience, here is a list of generally recognizable words that you can use for the mas game.

  • mamas
  • limas
  • pumas
  • comas
  • llamas
  • aromas
  • kormas (I didn’t know this one. Geoffrey asked it of Carol and she got it, though)
  • enemas
  • dogmas
  • commas
  • magmas
  • dramas
  • karmas
  • pajamas
  • stigmas
  • plasmas
  • schemas
  • enigmas
  • athsmas
  • panamas
  • cinemas
  • miasmas
  • traumas
  • diplomas
  • grandmas
  • dilemmas
  • dioramas
  • melanomas
  • charismas
  • panoramas
  • anathemas
  • penultimas
  • docudramas
  • emphysemas
  • melodramas
  • antepenultimas
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