musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

a collectable word…

My name is Cheryl and I'm a collector.

For all who know me as a writer and reader, it will come as no surprise that I collect books. This makes me a bibliophile. I also consider myself a logophile, or collector of words, some of my favourites being collective nouns. Who can resist a murder of crows, a plump of ducks, a murmur of nuns, or a ponder of philosophers?

Granted, most collections are more tangible.

In my youth, I amassed an impressive set of china horses. Oh, how I loved those horses. I probably should have known better than to leave them at the mercy of my mother when I left home. The hapless herd was rounded up and sold at a church bazaar before a fresh layer of dust had time to settle in my abandoned room. The horror! 

Thanks to Pinterest, I can once again run amok with horses, accumulating dozens of gorgeous specimens with no shelf space required. This is important, because I've moved on to new collections that now share my home, namely, blue glass poison bottles and badgers. Yes, badgers.

Why is it that a person who collects beer bottles has a fancy moniker like labeorphilist, while a collector of cobalt blue poison bottles is simply known as a 'cobalt blue poison bottle collector'? There should be a word! 

Toothpick collectors have a word: entredentolignumologists. Even collectors of cheese labels have a word: tyrosemiophilists.

And what of badger collectors?  An unusual obsession, perhaps, but surely I'm not the only badger collector out there. And, darn it, we are worthy of a word!

My personal badger collection includes several plush toys – even a coveted Steiff. This might, if we're very, very liberal with the definition, allow badger collecting to exist as a subset of genus arctophilia (teddy bear collecting). But my passion isn't limited to fabric toys. I have many painted and printed badgers, carved stone badgers, ceramic, glass, and even pewter badgers – art, mugs, plates, pins, earrings – not teddy bears by any stretch of the imagination. It would appear I'm going to have to create my own word.

Just a few of many gems from my badger collection: a snugly plush 'Jellycat' badger, a Wedgwood "I Spy" plate, two carved Zuni badger fetishes, and a sleeping badger painted rock.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the term arctophilia or arctophilist is taken from the Greek words 'arcto' (bear) and 'philos' (loving). Makes perfect sense as a teddy bear collector's handle. Looking to my list of collective nouns, I believe I've found the ideal starting point for my new word. A group of badgers is called a 'cete', from the Middle English word for a badger's den (sett) with roots in the Latin 'cetus' or coming together. Combine 'cete' (group of badgers) with 'philos' (loving), and a badger collector becomes a cetephile or cetephilist. I like it! Cetephilist. A truly collectable word.

According to The Psychology of Collecting by Mark B. McKinley, "Everybody collects something." Sigmund Freud blamed our human propensity to collect on latent potty training issues. (Um... ew.) I choose to believe our human urge to collect comes from a combination of nostalgia and "ooh, pretty!" What do you think? Are you a collector?

My name is Cheryl and I'm a cetephilist.

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At 9:53 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that description, "a combination of nostalgia and "ooh, pretty!" ...those are just the perfect words for it!! And I just love that you've created a word for yourself, as a writer you simply have to have just the right way to express yourself :)

At 10:03 am, Blogger Cheryl said...

Thanks, S.B. I'm pretty pleased with it myself. Wonder if it will catch on? ;-)

At 6:49 pm, Anonymous Susan McNicoll said...

Great blog Cheryl and I LOVE your new word. Your badger collection looks and sounds like a lot of fun. When I was young I collected any mother and two children set in the animal kingdom. It was always, (interestingly!) only ever a mother and two children (such as a horse and two foals). Dads never seemed to be part of the equation. As I am thinking now I realize that I started the obsession when our family was just my older brother, mum and I. Other siblings came later. I just loved getting these collections. Passions are interesting.

At 10:27 pm, Blogger Cheryl said...

Thanks for visiting, Susan. I love the idea of your mother and 2 children collection of animals - very sweet. :-)


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