So. You know scoundrel and wastrel and custrel (well, maybe you don’t know that one) and kestrel and even doggerel. There’s this –rel suffix that English got from French–ereau and –erelle, and we use it for diminutive derivatives, especially pejorative ones. It sounds sort of like throat-hawking in another room, or a car peeling out on a gravel road nearby, or the faint echo of someone having been thrown in a well.

But pynt? What is that? Well, it’s an old spelling for paint or pint or pained or point. But which is it here?


Well, it’s someone who takes great pains to paint the point (with at least a pint of paint). They want you to know that they know. If you say something, they will explain it back to you just to show that they know it.

How is this different from a mansplainer or any other kind of splainer? In truth, were I to draw a Venn diagram, they would be overlapping circles. But a splainer comes into it with the presumption that you don’t know the subject. They tell you to learn a few things about a subject – a subject they read some Wikipedia on while you, alas, have only a PhD in it. They tell you that you really should read this book, when it’s the book you wrote. And so on. A pyntrel, by contrast, comes in with neediness and insecurity. They just want to make sure that you know that they know. They’ll spend a lot of breath eagerly describing to you all the things about a subject, not for your instruction but for your approval, because this is all stuff that you both know that you know. They’re probably hoping that you will also say “Ah, yes, great insight” or “You know, I hadn’t really seen it quite in that light” or something like that. But it’s always the approach from below.

If, that is, you can see the difference. Very often a pyntrel may seem like a splainer, and sometimes vice versa. And, frankly, one might masquerade as the other for tactical reasons, however lamely handled they may be.

Does this seem like a strange word for it? Well, what the heck. I just made it up from Scrabble tiles. It’s another new old word. But the etymological sources are accurate. And we do have some use for a name for such a person.

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