- To depart secretly and hide oneself.
(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 13 September 2019)
Use it in a sentence
Chops was clearly on a steep decline. But, whilst he could still eat and shuffle from mat to lawn and back again, the family indulged his occasional pee mishap and the messy slobber he left on your shoe. The St Bernard had, after all, been collected from the breeder just two weeks before their first child, Abigail, was born almost 12 years ago. They couldn’t remember why they would do such a stupid thing – breaking in both a newborn and a puppy at the same time – but it felt like Chops had always been in the family and they loved the dog dearly. Abigail especially, had a deep affection for him, naturally.
Chops, however, was quirky. He was not a placid St Bernard. He was cantankerous and prone to sulking. He never snarled or tried to bite anyone, but those big brown eyes seem to scoff at you, as though he loathed you just for being human. After staring at you for some time, he would turn his big head away first, then his whole lumbering body, as though he couldn’t stand to hear another word. He would tolerate only Abigail ruffling his ears and holding up his big droopy cheeks in a mockery of a smile.
So, it was ironic that it was Abigail he should betray so horrendously. For her 12th birthday, the family decided to have a BBQ with all of their friends and family. It was such a bright sunny day and they strung up balloons and put out paper hats for all. Chops was especially grumpy with all the to-ing and fro-ing and shouts of ‘Move it, you big lard arse!’ Only Abigail took the time to boop his nose and take him gently by the collar. ‘Come on Chops, come and sit down on your mat. Everyone’s coming now!’ She led him over and pushed him down. Chops lay down dutifully but was sullen.
Soon the BBQ was smoking, and the adults were cracking open the wine and alcopops while the cousins guzzled coke and cordial. Abigail hovered around her father who dutifully flipped the burgers and pierced the sausages. He wielded one of those serrated edged stainless-steel spatulas in one hand, and a beer in the other. Abigail kept trying to pinch a sausage right off the grill. Her father swatted her. ‘Get out of there! You’ll burn yourself!’
She giggled and tickled him. Chops lumbered over to see what the fuss was about, wagging his tail slowly. Abigail kept poking her dad who cried out a little anxiously, ‘Stop it love!’ Abigail jabbed his kidneys, and he winced and laughed at the same time, and jumped back – colliding into Chops. His arms flailed as he stumbled and tried to catch something – the table nearby, Abigail, anything. The trouble was that he still had the beer and the spatula in his hands. The bottle slipped and smashed on the concrete. The spatula came down hard on Abigail’s hand and sliced her tender little pinky finger clean off.
There was a moment of horrified silence as Abigail and her father looked aghast at each other. Then she opened her little mouth and howled long and loud for a few seconds, before promptly fainting. Her father caught her on the way down and swept her up in a panic. ‘Ambulance! Call an ambulance!’ There was a frantic and confused rush as the family quickly figured out what happened. Someone shouted, ‘Find the finger! They can sew it back on! Get some ice!’ and everyone dropped to their hands and knees, frantically searching for the finger.
They wouldn’t find it. Chops had absconded with the finger hanging out the side of his mouth like a cigar. He nosed his way through the half-open back door, circled his indoor bed before sitting down and staring out the window a minute. Then he started chewing methodically, thoughtfully, as the humans crawled around crying and shouting, oblivious.