Wednesday 8 September 2010

Myoclonic Jerk

Do you ever, dear reader, just as you're falling asleep, suddenly twitch and wake up? For no reason? I do. It's a terribly common phenomenon; and there is, dear reader, a name for it. It is a myoclonic jerk.

The reason I like myoclonic jerk is not simply that it gives a name to the nameless, but that it sounds like a term of abuse. 'That guy', I can rant, 'is a myoclonic jerk.'

It wouldn't matter that the sentence would be meaningless, because it would sound right.

Incidentally, if you ever experience a myoclonic jerk while you're not falling asleep, you are, in the words of doctor friend of mine, "absolutely fucked".


  1. Next time this happens to me, and it does all the time, I will comfort myself with the fact that it has a posh name. With me, until I stopped driving, it was often combined with the feeling that I just crashed into a wall. You can see why I gave up driving ...

  2. I found this term in Bill Bryson's book The Mother Tongue, and it became a buzzword in my etymology class this summer (to which I read a couple of your posts, about tanks and brackets). There was a kid who kept nodding off in class, whom I referred to as a "myoclonic jerk." I mentioned the word in my comment for that kid, only to learn that the Academic Dean had a son who suffered from myoclonic jerks, and was therefore not amused.