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  • Allie

Witches and Cads

The witches are coming by Lindy West

Last week I had the pleasure of reading The Witches Are Coming, a book of essays by Lindy West. Above you can see the cover goes perfectly with these small polymer clay bookmarks my sister Kate made for me.

In Witches West’s writing has a clarity that was missing when I read essays from Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino earlier this year. West’s writing is just so readable, and smart too. Witches has laugh-out-loud funny moments, but the message is earnest: we see through the “plausible deniability” of Republican lies, the excuses purported by the political right and alt-right—and we’re done pandering. We are moderates, liberals, women, minorities, marginalized. Sure, call us witches, and sure, cry witch hunt. We ARE witches, and we’re coming for YOU.

Whenever I read a book of essays, I find so many new words, and Witches was no different. Below I’ve listed each word with the sentence in which I found it, the Oxford definition, and a sentence of my own using the word. If any of these words are new to you try them out in your sentences and share in the comments!


“The pair, along with a passel of unidentified men, were on a bus en route to film an Access Hollywood segment” (10).

Noun: a large group of people or things of indeterminate number; a pack.

A passel of high schoolers in matching T-shirts filled row after row on the plane, talking over the seats and across the aisle.


“I understand that it’s scary to suddenly face consequences for things that used to be socially acceptable [...] and I hear a lot of agita men about how they’re going to adapt” (15).

Noun: anxiety, stress, or aggravation.

I stood at an orange duct-taped X on the sidewalk behind a woman barely containing her agita over the wait with her hands on her hips, and I imagined a scowl beneath her mask and sunglasses.


“... the media ate it up, running puff pieces that cast Yiannopoulos as an outrageous cad and interviewing neo-Nazis to get ‘their side’ of the story” (32).

Noun: a man who behaves dishonorably, especially toward a woman.

Right away he mentioned that he had cheated on his last girlfriend, as if he was proud of it—the cad.


“There is something irresistibly endearing about Guy Fieri, perhaps not in spite of his gaucherie as a broadcaster but because of it” (80).

Noun: awkward, embarrassing, or unsophisticated ways.

In the show Schitt’s Creek, central to the humor of the character Roland Schitt is his gaucherie.


“[I]t is self-evident and measurable that white people in the United States, in general, are assiduous about the first part of the equation (caring for ourselves) and less than attentive to the second (caring for others)” (103).

Adjective: showing great care and perseverance.

Ms. Rainn, always an assiduous grader, read through every paper thrice: first to gather overall impressions, second to identify thesis and structure, and third to write corrections and comments.


“It is normal and forgivable to be afraid of dying, afraid of cancer, afraid of losing your youth and beauty and the currency they confer” (103).

Verb: [with object] grant or bestow (a title, degree, benefit, or right).

When Lisa heard of Kayla’s engagement she pulled from storage her wedding veil, perfectly preserved, and conferred it upon her daughter just as her own mother had done for her.


“It is objectively destructive to fetishize the past, to dismantle social safety nets, to deny the existence of structural inequalities and leave the most vulnerable to face impossible odds without succor” (115).

Noun: assistance and support in times of hardship and distress.

Ruth, distressed to hear of the financial hardship caused by the pandemic, showed succor for her adult grandchildren, sending each a letter with a check.


“The feminine directive to love pockets is a cheap simulacrum of gender solidarity where none really exists” (142).

Noun: an image or representation of someone or something; an unsatisfactory imitation or substitute.

The donated jacket, tight around his shoulders, proved a mere simulacrum of comfort and warmth as he sat shivering on the concrete steps.


“She lost the election to apoplectic masculinity itself” (206).

Adjective: overcome with anger; extremely indignant.

The character Vernon Dursley from the Harry Potter series regularly becomes apoplectic, sputtering, his face puce, with a finger pointed at Harry.

Thanks for joining me in this Witchy Wordy Wednesday, and happy reading!

P.S. Remember last week when I shared the word nasturtium from The Whale & the Cupcake? I went on a walk yesterday, and around the corner I spotted nasturtium! I could tell not only from the orange flowers but the distinct round leaves, although in the photo below the leaves of ivy are more prominent. I love learning the names of plants and being able to identify them out in the world.

Allie Phillips with nasturtium



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