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Definition: To be overly in love. Smitten. (Literally) to have your ‘head’ all ‘atwitter’ because of love.

Pronunciation: Twih-ter-pay-ted

Origin: 1942. From the Disney movie Bambi.

Why this word?

Many words have deep roots in older languages – particularly Latin and Greek. Words that have a much younger genesis are rarer. Twitterpated falls into the category of words that are invented by writers when there is no appropriate existing word.

What I particularly like about twitterpated is that it is extremely well constructed. The writer took time to develop the word. The writer saw young love as an image of someone being distracted – and that distraction took the form of birds chirping or twittering around the smitten person’s head. But the author knew that twitterheaded wouldn’t work. It sounds like an insult more than a state of hormonal turmoil. So the author went back to the dictionary and came across the word ‘Pate’, an old 14th century word for the top of the head. And thus was born twitterpated. The perfect expression of the author’s meaning.

What I particularly like about this word is that, although nobody uses it, everyone knows it – whether they realize it or not. Just think of that scene in Bambi where the owl explains to Bambi and Thumper what the word means:

Owl: Why, don’t you know? They’re twitterpated.
Bambi & Thumper: Twitterpated?
Owl: Yes. Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime. For example: You’re walking along, minding your own business. You’re looking neither to the left, nor to the right, when all of a sudden you run smack into a pretty face. Woo-woo! You begin to get weak in the knees. Your head’s in a whirl. And then you feel light as a feather, and before you know it, you’re walking                                     on air. And then you know what? You’re knocked for a loop, and you  completely lose your head!

How to use this word:

This word should be reserved for parents to embarrass their teenage children by referring to them as twitterpated when they are in the throes of puppy love.

Alternatively, it could conceivably be used to describe someone who spends all of their time on Twitter.


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Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


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