A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Words with Webster: Vestibular, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun Friday features for you today. First up is Real Cat Webster, who has a sciencey word to share. After that, it’s on to Friendly Fill-Ins!

Words with Webster

Words with Webster
Hi, everybody! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “vestibular.” I got the idea for this word from reading this study about cheetahs’ inner ears (okay, I only read the abstract and part of the introduction; Mommy said she’ll read more later and tell me about it). Turns out, the vestibular system of cheetahs is different from those of other cats, and this specialized system helps cheetahs keep their heads and vision stable while they’re chasing prey.

So what does “vestibular” mean? Well, that stuff about the cheetahs was a clue. According to my favorite dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s, “vestibular” means “of, relating to, or affecting the perception of body position and movement.” That is what the word means when we’re talking about anatomy.

Next I went to the Oxford English Dictionary, which says that our word means “of or pertaining to the vestibule of the ear or its function as an organ of equilibrium.” This first showed up in print in the 1830s:
The vestibular part of the membraneous labyrinth…is all that is really fundamental in the structure of an organ of hearing. (Todd’s Cyclopedia of Anatomy and Physiology II.537/1, 1836–1839)
Okay, but if you’re like me (easily perplexed, or just really curious), you’re probably wondering what the heck a vestibule is. I checked that too, and Merriam-Webster’s said that it’s
any of various bodily cavities especially when serving as or resembling an entrance to some other cavity or space: such as a (1) :  the central cavity of the bony labyrinth of the ear.
So basically, it is the structure in your ear that helps you keep your balance. Basically, there are these semicircular canals, some fluid, little hairs, and some other stuff. If you want to find out more, you can check out this video from 2-Minute Neuroscience.

Human Inner Ear Anatomy, via Adobe Stock
This illustration shows humans' inner ear anatomy. The vestibular
system includes the semicircular canals and vestibular apparatus.
Illustration via Adobe Stock.

But where did the word “vestibule” (and “vestibular”) come from? Well, the Online Etymology Dictionary says it is from the French vestible, which is from the Latin vestibulum, meaning “forecourt, entrance.’’ The word entered English in the 1620s and first meant “a porch.”

Next time you almost fall but then catch yourself and remain standing, thank your vestibular system (and remember that even if you're a cat, your system is different from a cheetah’s!).

Three cheetahs running, via Adobe Stock
Cheetahs run and change directions really fast when they're
hunting. They have a vestibular system that is unlike any other cats',
and it helps them keep their head steady and their eyes on their prey.

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-InsAnd now it’s time for Friendly Fill-Ins, from 15andmeowing and McGuffy’s Reader. They are a fun way to learn a little bit about the authors of the blogs you read. The first two questions, answered by old SoLT this week, are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered by Real Cat Paisley, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Old SoLT’s answers:
1. The Winter Olympics are a lot of fun to watch, even though I don’t usually manage to see much of them.  

2. I think the most romantic movie (or book) is … well, I’m not all that into romance, so I don’t know. Monty Python’s The Holy Grail?

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
3. Recently, I had an odd experience when the humans put the Christmas tree away and moved a rocking chair to where the tree used to be. It took me a few days to get used to that, but now I like it.

4. I believe that love is awesome, especially when Mommy tells me I’m her special little girl.


  1. Monty Python's Holy Grail?? Well, that is a great movie! One of my favourite movies! So, I must ask...why that one? Curiousity.
    I love your answer to #4. Love it. Hugs!

    1. I just couldn't think of anything romantic, so I picked the first thing that popped into my head! :)

  2. I learned about vestibular a few months ago when Prancie was having trouble walking and was told the reason was vestibular, I am still not convinced that is what it was though. Thank you both for participating in the fill-ins, great answers. I have never seen Montry Python's Holy Grail, I will have to check it out. You are a special girl Paisley and very loved. Have a nice weekend! XO

  3. "You've got cocoanuts!" Oh, that movie just cracks me up! There is some romance...if you look hard enough. Time to watch it again!

  4. wavez two ewe fake cat Cuddlywumps, and real catz paisley N webster ! itz nice ta meet ewe all, we N joyed reedin yur interveew two day; hay if yur ever west oh wear ewe live; pleez feel free ta stop by trout towne; we all wayz haz fish cookin on de grill !! happee fry day two all 🙂 ♥♥ N if ya canna understand R speech; pleez feel free ta say sew; we type in two languagez ... N we willna bee oh fended...lotz oh peepulz due knot udnerstand uz.....we due knot understand R selvez ☺☺ !!!

    1. I unnerstand ewe perfectly! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Monty Python's Holy Grail! Our whole family loves that movie and has almost the entire script memorized. I love the line, "Let's not bicker about who killed who!"

  6. Vestibular ... What a wonderful word! Who doesn't love cheetahs?! Last Halloween, my niece was a SPARKLY cheetah. Fuli, the cheetah, is her favorite Lion Guard character :)

  7. My dad has been having some neurological issues and vestibular is a word I've come to hear quite often! Love your #4, Paisley!

  8. Oh my!! We didn't know vestibular from vestibule. We do now. Thanks to Real Cat Webster.

    I agree the Holy Grail was a great love movie along with Psycho. Peeps just don't get these movies. tsk tsk.

    Shoko and Kali

  9. Those were some great answers. I loved the interview at Mousebreath.

  10. We learn so much from you, Webster! I was only really familiar with the word "vestibule" as an entryway of sorts. That was so interesting!