Printable Version
Pronunciation: æb-sqwah-chu-layt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: (Humorous slang) 1. To depart, abscond, take off, bug out, hit the road. 2. To die. 3. To argue.

Notes: Today's word is not one you would want to use on a job interview or in a PhD dissertation. It is a word created for humorous effect, not for clarity of communication. In fact, the wide variety of meanings of today's word, none of which have any connection with squat, illustrates the frustration writers have faced in pinning down a meaning. The only sure meaning among those listed above is No. 1.

In Play: If you want to tell someone to leave you alone without insulting them, you might try this word: "Benny, why don't you absquatulate and do your exercises somewhere else." Of course, you run the risk that he will stay for a few more laughs like that one. Because the two words begin similarly, using today's word in the sense of abscond will usually work, "Duffy seems to have absquatulated with my date while I was in the bathroom; would you like to dance?" Probably not with anyone who talks like that.

Word History: The origin of this word is difficult. The Latin prefix ab- means "away (from)" and the suffix means simply "do something." The stem is a combination of squat and the diminutive -ul "a little". Put them all together and you don't have much. Some wags would have the word originally mean "take off and squat somewhere". However, in the 19th century America produced a lot of fake Latin words, including argufy, citify, uppity, high-falutin', among others. Today's Good Word is simply another one of these in a (sub)class with bloviate. Plainness is a specialty of the US; we don't appreciate fanciness in word or deed except to bear the brunt of jokes.

Dr. Goodword,

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