Monthly Archives: July 2020

Epistolary (adjective)

Photo by Shaun Bell via Unsplash


  1. of, relating to, or suitable to a letter
  2. contained in or carried on by letters
  3. written in the form of a series of letters.

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 26 July 2020)

Use it in a sentence

In the 21st century it was almost inconceivable, but there it was – they had an epistolary relationship for weeks before they met in person. Not email, not Messenger or WhatsApp, but indigo ink on real creamy white paper. Of course, they ‘met’ first on Facebook. She had commented on a friend’s post about how the only items that ever arrived in the mail were bills and misjudged online shopping. He had ‘Liked’ her comment and then posted a cheeky reply: ‘DM your address and I’ll send you a letter’.

It wasn’t lost on her that he could have been a psycho stalker with a sharpened axe in the boot of his car. But their common friend reassured her – oh no, he was lovely. Artistic, clever and witty. Good with words. Single. Grin.

So she messaged him her address. She noted the ‘Read’ and then waited.

Five days later, a long, crisp envelope arrived. Inside were two A4 pages neatly filled with lines of handwriting – cursive, no less. In the letter, he introduced himself, gave a potted work history, and a brief and tidy summary of his love life. Tucked into the paper folds was a printed photo of him smiling, sitting next to a Labrador. His?

On the last page, a series of questions, ‘To get to know you better.’

  • Signature dish? (Do you like cooking?)
  • Favourite way to spend Sunday.
  • Dogs or cats? (A-ha, she thought. The Labrador/best friend.)
  • Movie that best epitomises your life.
  • Which book would you read if you could only read one more book in this lifetime? (Please tell me you like reading?)

She was breathless after reading through the two pages. She paused a moment and then read them again.

Then she rummaged around for paper and pen and sat down to write. She fired off a list of responses and then posed her own questions. The photo will have to wait, she told him. (Her inkjet printer was dry, but let him think she was just being coy.)

She posted the letter and waited again. It wasn’t long before she received a reply. On they went like this, posing questions, including snippets like comics, funny quotes, interesting pictures cut out of magazines (memes, if you like). Her heart would snag in her chest when she saw the handwritten envelope in her letterbox. She automatically grinned and whooshed inside the house again. But she no longer tore at the envelope greedily. Instead she would make a cup of tea, fetch a nice biscuit and enjoy his words. The letters by now, ran into multiple pages.

After six weeks of this, he sent her a postcard – a picture of the Eiffel Tower (when had he been there?) and just a few words: Saturday 18 August, 7pm dinner at Sybil’s. I’ll be the one wearing a red bow tie 😉 He wears a bow tie.

It was Tuesday 14th but already her throat was dry, her hands shook. She gulped and smiled weakly to herself. What on earth was she going to wear?

Requisite (adjective)

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  1. Needed for a particular purpose: essential, necessary

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 22 July 2020)

Use it in a sentence

Mr Tong, the substitute teacher, whistled quietly as he walked into the chaotic classroom. It was important to appear nonchalant, relaxed. He calmly placed his leather satchel on the desk, looked up briefly, but otherwise, concentrated on the task at hand. He pulled out some whiteboard markers, some note paper and pen, a small whistle, a miniature disco ball and finally a plush toy. All the requisite tools for teaching a year 6 class. They were cunning in this year level. They were confident and not so in awe of the year 7s. They positively lorded it over the year 4s and 5s, but they knew they weren’t the top dogs yet. They were, almost without exception, clever and obnoxious.

This is what Mr Tong had gleaned over many years. He also knew that the rowdiest rebels had to be quelled quickly, if they were to get any work done today. And he was determined that they would work. The children often sighed with palpable relief when they saw a substitute teacher walk in – a cruisy afternoon of reading or a leisurely game outside in the sunshine.

Not with this substitute teacher. Mr Tong picked up his plush toy, a blue elephant with a smart pink waistcoat, and looked around. He spotted a tall boy, hair rubbed carelessly to one side, one half of his shirt untucked, the other scrunched just under the waistband of his grey trousers. He guffawed loudly, not at all concerned by Mr Tong’s presence. The boy tipped his chair back, put his hands behind his head and smiled broadly at his friends, waiting to see how the day would pan out.

Mr Tong narrowed his eyes a moment, and then threw the elephant straight at the boy’s head.

The boy, startled and alarmed, scrabbled at the edge of his desk as his chair tipped further back. But he couldn’t save himself and clattered to the floor with a loud and indignant, ‘Oi!’ The rest of the class erupted into a nervous and hysterical laughter. 

Mr Tong smiled. That got their attention.     

Tutelage (noun)

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1 a: instruction especially of an individual

b: a guiding influence

2. the state of being under a guardian or tutor

3 a: an act or process of serving as guardian or protector: guardianship

b: hegemony over a foreign territory: trusteeship

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the day, 14 July 2020)

Use it in a sentence

The young sisters, Becky and Violet, enjoyed the tutelage of a bright young thing, fresh from finishing school. They didn’t notice that their father’s gaze lingered a little too long over Miss Cavendish’s decollotage, or that at the same time their mother would raise her eyebrow and glare at her husband. They just loved the fact that Miss Cavendish would often sing to them. Some of her songs made them giggle and blush and cover their mouths, others would lull them into a dreamy state. They would unconsciously reach out to each other across the desks and hold hands, head cocked to one side, eyes half closed. They dreamed then, of handsome princes and nasty dragons that must be banished. They’d never dream of carrying out the task themselves. Miss Cavendish asked them once, if they’d like to learn how to fence and both of them exclaimed at once, ‘Oh no Miss Cavendish! We wouldn’t dream of it. And papa would never allow such a thing!’ The sisters Barrington were happy to take up a sewing needle rather than a sword, which did make Miss Cavendish sigh now and then.