My word of the day yesterday was forúnculo. It means a boil, in the medical sense. Also biblical, as in the plague of boils. It became my word of the day when a doctor told me that a patient apparently had a boil on her butt. Ooh, a boil! (Pobrecita.) Never had to say that one before. The word furúnculo flew into my mind from God only knows where, and I was glad to finally activate this word that had lain dormant in my passive vocabulary. I always enjoy that sensation of surprise, panic, and ultimately triumph when I have to shuffle through my mental papers like a madwoman to locate a word, especially if it’s a word I’ve never had the pleasure of actually saying before. Alas, the word never did come up; the poor thing was suffering from a hemorrhoid instead. I didn’t get to say furúnculo after all, but I was just as glad that she got it taken care of, I promise.
What a fun word to say; so much more fun than boring old “boil.” I’ve researched the topic some more, and apparently forúnculo is a much more common variant. There are also some less precise ways out there to refer to one.
The word is fun to say because it’s an esdrújula, because it has that stressed unc syllable (like avuncular in English–such a great word), and because, ahem, it has the word culo in it, which makes it especially fitting if the boil is on your derriere. I made up a squeaky-clean alternative–forúncola–for piano leg-covering Victorian types.
The word “furuncle” also exists in English. If you’d ever heard that, though, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.
Thinking about forúnculo, I remembered the word funicular. The English word is the same, but I’ve only experienced this word in Spanish, namely in Bogotá to get up to the Monserrate mountain. It’s a cable railway that uses tram-like cars to get up a steep slope. There’s a tongue twister shaping up in my mind; here, say this five times fast:
A Florencio no le funciona el forúnculo en el funicular.
Ahhh, and now you see how a medical interpreter decompresses after a long day at work. What do you do?