from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun That part of the spine in quadrupeds which extends from between the shoulder-blades to the loins, and which the animal cannot reach to scratch.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The part of an animal's skin that it cannot reach to scratch itself - usually the space between the shoulder blades.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From ἄκνηστις (aknēstis, "spine"), from the Ancient Greek word knestis ("spine, cheese-grater").


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  • Curious word of the day: acnestis - that part of an animal's skin that it cannot reach to scratch.

    Progressive Bloggers

  • In what has to be the longest post-election season in living memory, the last five months have felt like an acnestis upon our collective soul; like that little patch of skin on our backs that we just can't reach to scratch ourselves.



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  • That annoying spot on your back that you can't reach to scratch.

    February 27, 2007

  • A word that should be revived.

    January 27, 2009

  • And a place that should be lotioned.

    January 27, 2009

  • Not necessarily, C_b.

    I looked this up in the Century Dictionary Online (thanks again, Sionnach) and was a little surprised to find that this word really does refer simply to a place on the back that is unscratchable (which is exactly what the Greek origin of the word means); it's not a rash or some other skin condition (as one might think from its first four letters). I just refers to a place on the body, which may in fact be completely itch-free.

    January 28, 2009

  • And that spot on my back is itchy because my skin is dry and I can't reach it with lotion. Plus, it's hard to apply lotion with my claws being, you know, bear claws.

    January 28, 2009

  • I think all of this may have derived from my initial wisecrack about not being able to reach this spot to scratch. It was definitely not meant to be a formal definition. So yes, chained_bear apparently needs lotion on that particular part of her ursine back, though that doesn't mean that everyone's acnestis needs lotion. Or scratching, for that matter. :-)

    But c_b, don't you guys just rub up against trees when that happens? Signed, An Inquiring Fellow Mammal

    January 28, 2009

  • But then my tiara gets all crooked, and I get bark in my fur. It is such a pain.

    January 28, 2009

  • Oh. Well, it isn't easy being an Ursine Queen, I suppose.

    January 28, 2009

  • According to one source it applies only to quadrupeds: "That part of the spine which reaches from betwixt the shoulder blades to the loins. This name seems only applicable to quadrupeds, because they cannot reach it to scratch."

    But I don't know – there's definitely a small part of my back that I can't scratch satisfactorily, and I'm bipedal all the way.

    April 10, 2009