Stickybeak’s Lexicon. Flabellate: not at all what I imagined.



Welcome to Stickybeak’s Lexicon. Here you will find my (ir)regular scribblings about words newly learnt, phrases freshly heard, and sayings just-acquired.

This is not intended as an all-encompassing dictionary; Samuel Johnson I am not. I simply fancied sharing any intriguing words and phrases with you as I discover them. I might even try using them in my writing; you might like to as well. If you do, let me know; you could even offer up an example of how you might use the word.



Some words, to my mind, simply cry out to be verbs; flabellate is one such word.

In the darker and more sinister recesses of my mind, to flabellate, or more precisely, to flabellate oneself, should rightly be used to describe the actions of a repentant and somewhat corpulent sinner. There, that’s put you off your supper.

Equally, and for mostly the same reasons, it wouldn’t be out of place if used in a house of dubious repute. Think dungeons. Think leather.

Imagine then, my surprise, (and disappointment), on discovering that flabellate is, in fact, an adjective used to describe, amongst other things, the shape of certain insect’s antennae. Flabellate means fan-shaped and comes from the Latin flabellatus, (titter ye not there in the back row), which stems from the verb flabellare. So it is a verb after all; just not used in the way that it sounds like it should. To my school boy mind, that is.

In botanical and zoological terms, something can be flabelliform if fan-shaped. I can’t think of too many occasions where I might want to use this in my writing, but it is now filed away in the Lexicon, just in case. I’d be thrilled if anyone can think up a sentence using flabellate in an interesting way. It cries out to be humorous, don’t you think? Incidentally, the comparative of flabellate is more flabellate, and the superlative is most flabellate. This just gets better.

Whilst I ponder how I can work flabellate into something I’m working on, here’s a pretty picture which explains more clearly this fabulous word’s meaning.

A beetle with flabellate antennae




2 comments on “Stickybeak’s Lexicon. Flabellate: not at all what I imagined.

  1. Hi there Justin — I really enjoyed this post. Nice to see somebody taking a writerly interest in words. Now I feel drawn – nay compelled – to use the word ‘flabellate’ in a story somewhere. Care probably required, or readers will tend, as you suggest, to that leather connotation… or worse. May be safest to link to the word here. 😉


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