Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another word for grin

Margie Lawson, in her on-line writing classes, encourages writers to be creative with body language, especially facial expressions. That's great, but how many new ways can we express grin? Thanks to's Word for the day, here is a new one to add to our list:

Word of the Day for Wednesday, August 26, 2009
rictus \RIK-tuhs\, noun:

1. The gape of the mouth, as of birds.
2. A gaping grin or grimace.

A rictus of cruel malignity lit up greyly their old bony faces.
-- James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

His belly swelled grotesquely, his hands curled, his cheeks puffed out, his mouth contorted in a rictus of pain and astonishment.
-- Tony Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic

Then, as the sympathy and praise engulfed him, Hector would invariably roll over onto his back, legs in the air, his mouth twisted into an otherworldly rictus.
-- Bruce McCall, "Writers Who Were Really Dogs", New York Times, June 5, 1994.

Has anyone read "Writers Who Were Really Dogs"? Sounds interesting!!!


  1. Rictus? Dunno... I don't think I'll be warming up to this word...

  2. Hmm.. For some reason the word "rictus" makes me think of rigor mortis. Especially the way those three authors used it. It sort of sounds like a death grin.

    Julaina! Your blog background looks exactly like mine! I didn't notice that until now. I'll change mine up a little...

  3. Leslie, it doesn't matter if yours looks like mine.
    Peter, too funny about warming up to rictus. It is a strange word for grin but you never know when it will come in handy. LOL