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noun [uncountable]

the state of being in a bad mood and easily annoyed, especially in the morning

'The secret is not to talk to him at all until he's been awake for at least an hour. Wait till the matutolypea subsides.'

At first sight, matutolypea looks just like one of those rather obscure, formal English words only of interest to an intellectual minority, but it actually represents a nominalisation of a very common, informal idiomatic phrase in English: to get out of bed on the wrong side or in American usage to get up on the wrong side of the bed, a well-known expression for describing when someone is particularly ill-tempered in the morning.

it represents a nominalisation of a common, informal phrase for when someone is particularly ill-tempered in the morning

There is, as yet, no substantial evidence for matutolypea having entered general use, possibly because the complexity of both its pronunciation and spelling are somehow incongruous with the simple, informal concept the word represents. Matutolypea has not yet entered mainstream dictionaries, but its recognition has recently been stimulated by the many websites concerned with the collecting and reporting of lexical obscurities, such as the Grandiloquent Dictionary.

Background – matutolypea

Matutolypea is derived from the Latin name Matuta from Matuta Mater, the Roman Goddess of the dawn, and the Greek word lype meaning 'grief or sorrow'.

Despite its clear derivational origins, it is yet to be covered in major printed dictionaries, though a related adjective matutinal features in mainstream dictionaries on both sides of the Atlantic, defined in The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) as 'of or occurring in the morning', from the Latin matutinus, meaning 'early'.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 3rd October 2003.

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

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