Kristi Keller recently published an article discussing an incident she experienced in which Microsoft Word’s Autocorrect doohickey assumed that, when she typed “listicle,” what she actually intended to say was “testicle.” I’m sure you know the feeling. We’ve all been confused by that puzzling conundrum at one time or another, right? Is it a list-based meditation on a theme? Or could it possibly be a vulnerable external reproductive organ, protected from a dangerous world by only the flimsy hide of a hacky-sack?
Keller then challenged her readers to “please write something about how listicles compare to testicles,” and upped the ante by asking for “writers who even HAVE testicles who could come up with something here.” How could anyone refuse?
Therefore, in the satiric spirit of Voltaire (who meditated on a similar etymological observation in his Philosophical Dictionary in 1764), and with the help of the all-purpose omniscience of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (2004), I would like to list the following eight words and their vaguely condensed or paraphrased definitions, in order to reveal their common roots… or, should I say, the hidden organs that have been slyly reproduced within them?
Listicle: Words That Start with T-E-S-T
1. Test (A): a series of questions, examinations, or exercises used to measure the knowledge, ability, or aptitude of a person or group, in order to reach a judgment about their capacities within the assessed field.
2. Test (B): an outer shell or firm covering, common among invertebrates.
3. Testa: the hard external case of a seed.
4. Testament: the last authoritative word on a subject, whether it be a person’s life, a promise from a deity, or a particular religious document.
5. Testify: the act of providing a response to a series of questions about a belief or experience; the bearing of witness to the existence of a fact.
6. Testimony: a publicly performed, and often legally binding, declaration, typically recorded as a document known as a Testimonial, confirming said belief.
7. Testis or Testicle: a common invertebrate, filled with seeds, lacking a hard outer shell, and used as a witness to publicly confirm a belief or judgment about its owner’s aptitude or capacity within a certain field.
8. Testy: an inability to see the humor of a silly situation.
© Kent Clark, 2020