Like anyone else who plays Words With Friends, I am continually composing words that should be words but turn out not to be. Therefore, I am always pretty excited to learn a new word to put into the rotation, and if it has to do with chickens, so much the better.
If chickens had little arms, their lives would be so much easier. But alas, they do not, which makes them that much more ridiculous and entertaining to watch. Lacking arms and the ever-so-handy bonus of opposable thumbs, chickens cannot make use of a dinner napkin, so are left to wipe their beaks after a messy meal. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you can see it at about :17 into this video:
So now I have learned that there is a word for chicken-beak-cleaning and that word is: feek. It sounds vaguely foul, I know, because it has slang references that depart from its true meaning, which is simply and decidedly fowl. I know this because I recently read the delightful The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar: Living with a Tawny Owl by Martin Windrow. The author spent fifteen happy years with his pet owl, Mumble, and memorialized the experience in this book, which has been effusively reviewed by both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, especially after I endured a somewhat grotesque passage that described Mumble’s primitive eating habits and found the following sentence: “When she had finished eating she usually “feeked” – stropped both sides of her beak against a perch, presumably to clean it…”
That is exactly what chickens do! They feek! The word is obscure enough that my autocorrect goes into hyperdrive every time I type it. As long as @mamabelle and @highway150 don’t read this, I might finally win a game of Words With Friends with my newfound knowledge…
Good things come in pairs, and right on the heels of being feeked out, I finally, after three years of gross mispronunciation, learned how Pippa’s breed is pronounced. For such a little hen, she has a rather big title: Belgian Bearded Mille Fleur d’Uccle Bantam.
I have made several queries as to the pronunciation of d’Uccle and have gotten just as many variations as an answer. One chicken keeper was absolutely insistent that it is pronounced in a manner that rhymes with “buckle”.
Nope. Not so. Because I ran across an article in The Wall Street Journal’s Mansion section all about Pippa’s home town of Uccle. It turns out to be a tony enclave of Brussels, where real estate values are flying high. Pippa and I might not be able to afford a coop there, but at least I can now pronounce the name correctly: according to WSJ, Uccle is pronounced ook-la. (I’d love to dazzle someone with that word on WWF, but proper names are regrettably vetoed.)
Lastly, since you’ve been so kind as to sit through the grammar lesson, here is a photo for anyone who thinks I’m too dedicated to my pets:
His name is Pomi Duck, and, of course, he has his own Facebook page. No word on whether he plays Words With Friends but I’m willing to bet he feeks after he eats.