Nuts to that doctor. Really. …Actually, no nuts to him. I’ll have the nuts. See if he stops me.

The doctor in question is one I talked with a few years ago, one who helped me to an important realization: that some medical specializations tend to filter out people who have a normal sense of enjoyment of life. This doctor, who seemed affable enough and demonstrably had a sense of humour, nonetheless was telling me that I should make eating a spoonful of psyllium my “special time” of the day. And that I should avoid Thai food, because everything in it was bad for digestion. And nuts? “I don’t even understand why anyone eats nuts.”

By that time I was beginning to feel a little… squirrelly.

Well, at least in that squirrels are nucivorous.

Isn’t that a delicious word, a munchable word, a word you can get your teeth into? You can see the -ivorous, which you’ll recognize from carnivorous and herbivorous and omnivorous and so on. And the nuc(i)-? Well, you may (just perhaps) recall the term nuciform sac, a fictitious organ (invented by G.B. Shaw, I think); that literally means ‘nut-shaped sack’, not to be confused with the common term that is exactly like that definition but without the -shaped part, and names something not fictitious at all.

So, yes, nuc(i)- means ‘nut’. It’s the combining form of the Latin nux. Which, I must say, is about as perfect a word for a nut as any I have ever seen. Especially if you can crack the nut with your knuckles. It’s a bit of a pity that it changes form when used in combination; nuxivorous would be even better. But Latin declension is a tough nut to crack, and I think I will decline.

The word nucivorous doesn’t get a lot of use, but there are some critters that eat mainly nuts. Squirrels are the emblematic case, but I can tell you from personal observation that they eat quite a few other things too. There’s a bird called a nucifrage that is noted for nut-eating; its Latinate name translates directly to its much more common English name, nutcracker. What it eats, though, are often actually seeds, as for instance from pine cones. (Do those count? Nuts if they do.)

And most people are, in the non-restrictive sense, also nucivorous. We’re all-sorts-of-things-ivorous, really; most of us are omni-voracious. But sometimes some nutcase of a gut doctor tries to redirect our diets.

Well. I’ve eaten a heck of a lot of Thai food since I last talked to him. With peanuts in it. And I’ve consumed countless almonds and even countlesser pistachios (or, as I call them, vegan clams). I remain nucivorous. And if the doctor says no nuts are good nuts, I’ll have his.

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