cucurbitophobia (kyü-ˈkər-bətə-fō-bē-ə)

Happy Halloween! I had a fabulous time trick-or-treating in my spookily decorated neighborhood this evening. Almost every house that we visited had pumpkins decorating their porch. If I had cucurbitophobia, I would not have had a very good time tonight.

Cucurbitophobia is the fear of gourds. Pumpkins, squash, and watermelon are examples of gourds. The word curcubit comes from the Latin word cucurbita,  meaning gourd or cup. Cucurbitophobia comes from the word cucurbit, and phobia- meaning abnormal fear of.


thanatophobia (than-ət-ə-ˈfō-bē-ə)

Thanatos was the primordial Greek god of death. "Angel of Death" by Evelyn DeMorgan, 1881.

To continue our Halloween theme this month, let’s take a look at another phobia. Thanatophobia is the fear of death. Thanatos was the primordial Greek god of death. It was said that he appeared to mortals when the time for them to die was imminent in order to guide them to the Underworld. No one could escape death, therefore Thanatos was feared by all.

Thanatos is often depicted in art as a young man with wings, symbolizing the ability to guide souls to the Underworld. Other symbols include a sheathed sword representing a peaceful passing and a reversed torch representing the end of life.

Other words that are derived from Thanatos are “thanatology” and “euthanasia.”

ailurophobia (ī-ˌlu̇r-ə-ˈfō-bē-ə)

Ailurophobia is the fear of cats. "Gato negro" by Chosovi. Distributed under license CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

As Halloween approaches, people are busy decorating their houses with scary looking spiders, skeletons, and witches. Images of black cats are also a common decoration for Halloween; I see black cats with haunting eyes everywhere! In the United States, black cats are considered bad luck. But in other countries, like Japan, black cats are thought to bring good luck. For the last several months, a black cat has been roaming around in our yard. We see him almost every day. I like to think that this means that we will have good fortune!

Ailurophobia is the abnormal fear of cats. Ailurophobia comes from the Greek roots ailur- meaning cat and phobia meaning abnormal fear of. I know many more ailurophiles than ailurophobes – which one are you?

iatrophobia (īa‧trə-ˈfōbē-ə)

Iatrophobia is the fear of doctors.

Halloween is approaching at the end of the month and I am so excited! This is one of my favorite holidays; it’s a day to dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating. It is the only day of the year my mom allows my sister and I to eat lots of candy and stay up later than usual.

Last year, I explored phobias during the month of October, and I thought it would be fun to continue the theme.

One of my biggest fears is going to the *pediatrician’s office, especially when I need to get vaccinated. I feel dizzy and nauseous when a needle approaches. Iatrophobia is the abnormal fear of doctors. It comes from the Greek roots iatro– meaning physician or medicine and –phobia meaning abnormal fear of.

Do any of you have iatrophobia?

*The root word –iatr can be found hiding in the middle of words, such as in the word pediatrician – a doctor who specializes in children’s medicine.

If you want to explore other phobias I’ve written about, search my blog with the key word “phobia”.

lipogrammatism (lipəˌgramə ti-zəm)

Lipogrammatism is a style of writing in which a letter or group of letters is excluded from a literary work.

Happy October! Recently, my English class received an unusual writing assignment from our teacher. Our assignment was to write a detailed description of our faces. This seemed easy enough, but there was a catch. We could not use the letter “s”.  I thought this was going to be an impossible task. How was I supposed to describe my ears, lips, earrings, eyes, or glasses without the letter “s”?!

This style of writing in which a certain letter or group of letters is excluded is called lipogrammatism. Lipogrammatism contains the Greek roots *lipo- meaning lacking or without and –gram meaning something written. The Greek word “gramma” means letter. The word lipogrammatism literally means “lacking a letter.”

For me, this was a challenging assignment. My teacher said that the result was likely to be “odd” and indeed it was. Below is an excerpt of my lipogram:

I have thick, refulgent, long black hair. I have a wide grin with mainly permanent teeth. Each dark chocolate colored ocular organ is framed by long curved blepharal hair.  I detect fragrance or odor with a narrow bridge in the center of my face. Upon the bridge, I wear a purple hued myopia correction device. I have a dimple in my cheek. I wear a tiny, gold hoop earring in each earlobe.

Have any of you written a lipogram before? If so, I would love to read it! Please post a link or paste it onto a comment. For those of you who have never written a lipogram, I challenge you to do this assignment and post it below in the comments.

*The Greek root –lipo also means fat