• “Rictus” is my word for WordWednesday.
• Noun: A gaping grin or grimace, a gape of a bird’s mouth, or the mouth orifice
• Pronunciation – RIK-tus
• Sometimes their “Rictus” expressed happiness and some times it showed shock.
Closing Thought and History
I think we all prefer an individual’s smile “Rictus” instead of of a frown.
Rictus began its English career in the late 17th century as a technical term for the mouth of an animal, the new science of zoology clearly calling for some Latin to set its lingo apart from the language of farmers. In Latin, rictus means “an open mouth”; it comes from the verb ringi, meaning “to open the mouth.” Zoologists couldn’t keep the word to themselves, though. English speakers liked its sound too much, and they thought it would be good for referring to a gaping grin or grimace. James Joyce used the word in both Ulysses (1922) and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), writing in the latter, “Creatures were in the field…. Goatish creatures with human faces…. A rictus of cruel malignity lit up greyly their old bony faces.”
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