in Wacky Word Wednesday

Ever had an itch you just couldn’t reach?  Watched your cat or dog roll around on the ground, desperate to have you scratch them? Well, get ready for today’s Wacky Word Wednesday, a weekly celebration of the wackiest and most interesting words from around the world!

The definition of today’s wacky word from

quo top




The part of the body that cannot be reached (to scratch), usually the space between the shoulder blades.

quo botAcnestis

Acnestis comes from a combination of two Greek words: aknestis, which means spine, and knestos, which means scratched (knaein, being defined as to scratch or scrape).

We admit it: this wacky word is not the most commonly used, but with a definition like that, how could we resist? The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about acnestis is that unforgettable scene in Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book. For those unfamiliar with this animated movie, the story unfolds when an abandoned baby boy is found in the jungle. Having just given birth herself, a female wolf takes the boy in and raises him alongside her cubs.

Years later, when news arrives that a human-hungry Bengal tiger will be returning to their part of the jungle, it is decided that the raised-by-a-pack-of-wolves ten-year-old Mowgli will have to go to the village to live among humans for the first time in his life. Reluctantly, Mowgli embarks on this journey, but it is not without adventure. It is during this voyage that he meets Baloo, a free-spirited bear who reinforces all the things Mowgli loves about living in the wild. A most memorable scene is when Mowgli and Baloo sing what is indisputably the film’s most well-known song, “Bare Necessities,” while scratching their acnestes on nearby trees.

Continuing with children’s entertainment, even children’s author and multifaceted artist Shel Silverstein managed to draw inspiration from acnestis with his poem, “The Unscratchable Itch”.

With all this talk on back-scratching and those impossible-to-reach itches, it’s only fair that we also direct you toward resources that will help provide relief, and what better place to start than Back Scratcher World? If you don’t have a friend around and you can’t find a tree, you’d better consider investing in a back scratcher to avoid the frustrating agony that acnestis might sometimes cause.

If we’ve left you itching for more, look below for some examples of acnestis in a sentence:

  • As the CEO was giving his presentation, Tony silently and casually pressed his back hard against his seat and moved from side to side as inconspicuously as he could, desperate for something to relieve his acnestis.
  • “In what has to be the longest post-election season in living memory, the last five months have felt like an acnestis upon our collective soul; like that little patch of skin on our backs that we just can’t reach to scratch ourselves. It’s irritating. It’s annoying. It’s left us reaching and spinning around in circles.” ( From “A Wish List to Soothe Our Collective Itch.” New Straits Times, August 2008.)

Have you ever had a particularly nasty case of acnestis? Tell us about it!

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  1. @ Pilipo: The Jungle Book is such a great childhood movie, isn’t it? Baloo is definitely a favorite.
    As for your “big acnestis”, perhaps try to work some yoga (or pandiculation) into your daily routine? :)

    @ Robert: Yes, even though it sounds strange, acnestis is a noun, albeit rarely used. As for acnestis being a reminder for us to rely on one another…well, I’d go for that, but then what does the inability to lick one’s elbow mean? :-P

  2. I love this!! It’ll have to be my new “show off” word–who’s never had an itch like that?!

  3. We all know the famous saying “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”. Perhaps we have been given acnestis ‘patches’ as an uncomfortable reminder of our constant reliance on others – no man is an island. Or is that too far fetched?

    By the way, it doesn’t feel right using words ending in ‘sis’ as a noun. Are we sure this is right? ‘My acnestis is killing me?’

  4. geat one! I’d love to see that image of Mowgli and Baloo with the trees again. Thanks for reminding me this nice feeling of childhood.

    I am not flexible at all and have hard time to scratch my back (or shall I say my big acnestis)… is it grave Doctor?

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