Rambunctious (adjective)

Rambunctious by elCarito via unsplash


  1. Marked by uncontrollable exuberance: unruly.

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 27 September 2020)Top of Form

Use it in a sentence

Monifa was reading her paper when she was disturbed by the sound of rambunctious birds in the neighbour’s front garden. Wild tweeting, twittering, caws and squawks. She peered over her reading glasses at her husband, Richard, and frowned. 

‘He’s feeding the bloody birds again.’

He chuckled. ‘I don’t know why it upsets you so much.’

She sighed, quite cross, and threw the paper down beside her chair. ‘Because they shit all over the damn place! That’s why! And birds are known carriers of diseases. You know that they’re known as the vermin of the air. Those little grey claws, and those beady little eyes.’ She mock shivered and stuck out her tongue. ‘Urgh.’

Richard just shook his head and carried on with his book.

Monifa had been tossing up whether to say something to the neighbour. They’d never actually met. In fact, they hadn’t crossed paths once in the two years that Monifa and Richard had lived at number 42. Not even a wave from the driveway. He was a bit of a recluse and rarely left his house. Still frowning, she walked over to the window, careful to stay hidden behind the curtain.

‘Are you spying on him now?’

Monifa shushed him. ‘I just want to see what the hell he’s doing. What is he feeding them anyway?’

‘Bread, I expect! Or maybe’, he said with a mischievous wink, ‘minced schoolboy.’ He sniggered but Monifa glared at him, unimpressed and not amused.

She put her head closer to the glass, trying to look around the neighbour’s porch column. There he was. Middle-aged, with a paunch and a thick head of greying hair that fell half-way down his back. He looked solemn as he reached into a box of birdseed and pulled out handfuls of the stuff that he threw close to the ground in a sprinkler pattern. He was surrounded by the usual grey pigeons, cooing and chirping incessantly. But in between those fat little bodies, Monifa saw sparrows and starlings too. The myna birds, typically aggressive, kept swooping down in big circles, upsetting all the others. A couple of magpies stood watch, but they didn’t deign to eat with the other birds.

She drew the curtain back a little and saw her neighbour’s face more clearly. He put some seed in his hand and raised it up slowly. Soon enough, a speckled neck dove landed gently on his wrist, and started pecking gently at the seeds. She saw her neighbour slowly smile. His whole expression softened and his body relaxed. He muttered quietly to the bird who seemed to look up at him and cock his head in comprehension. Then the little bird abruptly flew away, but the neighbour looked up and smiled after it. He stayed there a little longer, and then turned and went inside as the birds finished picking the last of the seeds out of the lawn.

‘Well. Aren’t you going to go yell at him?’

Monifa sighed and spoke quietly, ‘No.’

Delve (verb)


1.     To dig or labor with or as if with a spade.

2a.   To make a careful or detailed search for information

2b    to examine a subject in detail.

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

Use it in a sentence

My mother warned me not to ask too many questions – that a lump of coal under extreme pressure can become a diamond, but only if left buried underground for centuries. I pointed out that it was just a silly myth and, in fact, I’d watched a video that turned a spoonful of peanut butter into a diamond and that was no truer than the coal lie.

‘You’re missing the point,’ she grumbled. ‘Just leave it alone!’

But once you think someone, your boyfriend, is somehow not who he seems, even after so many years, you cannot rest easy until you delve a little deeper. My mother, desperate for a grandchild, would forgive him anything, if it meant he would marry me and produce offspring sometime soon.

It’s just that, when he arrived home at night, he seemed breathless, as though he’d just escaped some calamity and was quite relieved to be indoors. ‘Alright?’ I’d ask. And he’d stare at me for a moment before smiling broadly. ‘Yep! Just a long and busy day!’

He worked in an independent book shop that was only kept afloat by a handful of loyal repeat customers.

Then there was the unusual smell on his clothes. Not perfume. Nothing like that. No, it was more like leather. It was faintly animalistic, with rich earthy undertones. It wafted after him when he went to wash his hands. But the smell was in his clothes, and until he changed his shirt, it lingered on my palate, like cigarette smoke.

It was not the smell of modern paperbacks.

One night, I snooped through his briefcase. Not my finest hour, I know. But my curiosity was eating away at me and the more I casually dropped pointed questions, the more evasive he became. I quickly flicked open the latches whilst he showered. I found the usual briefcase detritus – half an orange wrapped in a sticky napkin, several used bus tickets, a packet of chewing gum, and three leaky pens. But, there was also a crumpled up newspaper clipping about the Botswana government looking for a new hangman, a box of matches (he didn’t smoke), a pair of socks (clean, I think) scrunched up into a ball, and an appointment card for laser hair removal.  

Confounded, I snapped the briefcase shut, and held still for a moment. What on earth was going on?

Abscond (noun)

Photo by JJ Shev via Unsplash


  1. 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.