In the September issue of Popular Mechanics an article about drilling a hole in an oil pan contains the word swarf, which is defined as “the metallic shavings removed by a cutting tool.” What an odd word and how inappropriate for that byproduct. Metdet would be a more descriptive blend to describe the detritus left when a drill does its bit on a hunk of steel.
Some of the other tiny matters that drift into our lives could also benefit from an apposite term.
Fabric tidbits in pockets–clothloft
Matter found between toes–tarsludge
Lint in belly buttons–navlac
Facial hair in shavers–whiskoft
Dried crumbles under the caps of milk cartons–lakflak
Flakes of skin–epscratch
Chips of soap that accrete on shelves in showers–tallof
Cereal dust at the bottom of a bag of oat cereal–oosdregs
Bits that fall from ears–waxwilt
Particles accumulated on nail files–bufscree
Pieces of envelopes upon being slit open–letdet
Portmanteau words can be handy in certain circumstances and yet bulky in others. On cleaning day it might be possible to take care of the metdet in the garage, netdet on the dock, petdet in the mud room, letdet in the den, and wetdet in the bathroom. Two tips for those who wish to hire someone for those chores: 1) Use simple directions rather than employing specialized terms to explain the tasks; 2) Pay the workers with spondulicks.