Alice Lowe

Word of the Day

Chantepleure: Noun. From the Old French “chanter,” to sing, plus “pleurer,” to weep.
1) Alternate singing and weeping.
2) In architecture, a narrow vertical hole or slit in a wall, to let the overflow of a stream of any other water that may collect pass through.

Wordnik sends me a Word of the Day. I skim through then delete most of these words. But last December, the second to be precise, there was chantepleure. And after all these months I can’t erase it from my head or my inbox. I reread and ponder it more days than not. It courses through my mind like a chant.

I look for ways to use it. Chantepleure. It’s a noun, but I think of it more as a verb—to sing and to weep. I conjugate it: je chantepleure, tu chantespleures, ils chantentpleurent. We chantonspleurons together, like “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve.

Perhaps the word has been invoked in poetry, but I seek to make it my own, to keep it close until I’m sure of it, and then to harness it for my own use. I want to write about it. Perhaps there’s a story waiting to emerge, ideas simmering that will one day pass through that narrow vertical hole in my mind (chantepleure).

It will have pathos.


Alice Lowe reads and writes about food and family, Virginia Woolf, and life. Her work has appeared in a number of literary journals, including Prime Number, Phoebe, Jenny, Writer’s Ink, and Raven Chronicles. She was the winner of a 2011 essay contest at Writing It Real. A monograph, "Beyond the Icon: Virginia Woolf in Contemporary Fiction" was published by Cecil Woolf Publishers in London. Alice lives in San Diego, California and blogs at