Monthly Archives: August 2020

Forte (noun)

Photo by Siim Lukka via Unsplash


  1. One’s strong point
  2. the part of a sword or foil blade that is between the middle and the hilt and that is the strongest part of the blade.

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 23 August 2020)

Use it in a sentence

After several spent matches and copious amounts of huffing and puffing, the kindling finally took, and soon there was a modest fire blazing in the stone firepit. Relieved, Becca took her place in the circle, under the barely contained contempt of her fellow witches. She ignored them as she adjusted her gold, asymmetrical crop top. One arm was bare, the other encased in a long sleeve. The other girls had told her that the tops, together with the tight white jeans, were impractical witch uniforms – sitting around in the local Scouts park, they were soon coated in dirt and leaves, and sometimes dog poo. And frankly, the synthetics were a danger so close to the fire. But she had insisted. She didn’t want them to be a cliché – all in virginal long dresses. Pfft! Becca looked around the circle. Virginal and pure? This lot?

‘Ok, now everyone hold up your mobile phones.’ Becca waited several minutes as they keyed in pin numbers or used face recognition to log in. Then there were the inevitable pings and beeps, alerts from Twitter/Snapchat/Instagram/Tinder.

When they were all ready, they turned on the torch function on their iPhones and held them aloft.  Becca cleared her throat. This was her forte – giving solemn and rousing speeches, at once uplifting, motivational and empowering. She drew herself up straight and looked up at the night sky.

‘Fellow Modern Girl Wytchez. We come here tonight to pay homage to our spirit guides, Google and Amazon, and to worship our deity – Modern Technology. We promise to sign in, log in, register, and upload, and regularly change our passwords using numbers, symbols and uppercase letters. We pledge to always download all available software updates, to maintain a thorough malware and virus check program, and to post content to multiple social media platforms all at once. We vow to never bully, catfish or gaslight anyone using our privileged, enlightened position.’ Here, Beccy paused to look pointedly at a couple of the girls who smirked but stayed quiet. ‘And we promise never to post, sell or publish nudes, or send them to unworthy males.’ There were a few audible groans, but Becca ploughed on. ‘We endeavour to always use our skills and abilities for good, and not evil. We pledge to only post choreographed and rehearsed content to TikTok, and we will be vigilant against bad reviews, reporting, and blocking actions. We must upgrade regularly and maintain our hardware integrity. Modern Gal Wythchez – are you with me?’


Becca shouted suddenly, ‘I can’t hear you, bitches. Are you with me?’

‘Yes!’ they shouted back, a little startled.

‘Then gather around for one epic selfie!’  

Vicarious (adjective)

Photo by Ethan Hooper via Unsplash


1. Experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another

2 a. serving instead of someone or something else

b. that has been delegated

3. performed or suffered by one person as a substitute for another or to the benefit or advantage of another: substitutionary

4. occurring in an unexpected or abnormal part of the body instead of the usual one.

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 18 January 2020)

Use it in a sentence

They strapped themselves in, Min pulling the belt a little more snug than Li. He felt her smirking, so Min looked at her and frowned. ‘What?’

‘Nothing,’ she smiled back, eyes wide with innocence.

Min took a deep breath and tried to relax but he realised he was still straight as a board and at least two inches away from making contact with the back of the seat. He deliberately pushed himself into it, and then placed his arms on the armrest on Li’s side. A stranger sat in the aisle seat.

Very soon, Min was gripping the armrest until his knuckles turned white, and he bowed his head and squeezed his eyes shut. He felt the tension creep down his neck, his legs cramp up and a fine perspiration bloom on his brow. He heart was already racing, out the gate and down the straight.  

They hadn’t left the ground yet.

‘Sweetie. It’s fine. Come on now. Just think how lucky we to vicariously live the life of birds. Swooping through the air, climbing into the sky, looking down on the world.’

He glanced up to see her smiling serenely at him, dreamy and happy.

He scowled. ‘Nobody ever rode a bird.’

Li burst out laughing, then quickly covered her mouth, trying to hide her mirth.

Min snatched at the small plastic water bottle tucked into his seat pocket, and took out his sleeping pills. He swallowed one and turned away from Li. She heard him mumble, ‘Just wake me when we land.’

Rife (adjective)

Photo by Bonnie Kittle via Unsplash


  1. Prevelant especially to an increasing degree
  2. abundant, common
  3. copiously supplied: abbounding.

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 31 July 2020)Top of Form

Use it in a sentence

Faced with a problem, she turned to her favourite source of sage information – Google (capital G). There was an answer to everything. Indeed, she loved how often Google could accurately predict what you wanted to know, like magic. And she was always intrigued by the suggested endings that came up when you started to key in, ‘How do you….’ Change a tyre? Bake chocolate chip cookies? Make a bomb?   

But Google wasn’t her only oracle. There was also Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Apple News. The people there always seemed to have a good solid opinion about what you should do and think, and even what you should NOT do and think. She admired that assuredness.

What she liked more than anything, was the random conversations she struck up with people on forums, meetup and subgroups. She enjoyed the thrill of talking to someone she’d never met, albeit from a safe distance. She was active member of a knitting group (she was still getting the hang of it), a ‘Save the ferrets’ group (so cute, though she’d never owned one), and the vintage clothing, scholars of the Enlightenment, and the beach lovers groups.

The Lonely Hearts group was perhaps her favourite. They seemed the nicest and kindest. The men always called her sweetie and asked what on earth she was doing there, which made her blush, even though they couldn’t see her. It never occurred to her that the Internet was also rife with bots, kooks and stalkers, and that a group called the Lonely Hearts was also a potential hotbed and powerful magnet for charlatans and rascals. The kind who would drain your bank account even as they robbed your heart. She drank it all up like iced tea on a hot summer’s day.

But she turned back to Google now and thought about how to phrase her problem. She typed, ‘How do you … cure loneliness?’