from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a normal reflex of young infants; a sudden loud noise causes the child to stretch out the arms and flex the legs


Sorry, no etymologies found.


    Sorry, no example sentences found.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • My friend has a 3 month old baby who I will most likely see this week, and I have just rediscovered this wonderful page and will probably not be able to keep it from my mind while holding him and eating cheese.

    January 16, 2018

  • This really is one of the best pages on the Internet. Wow.

    "I'm fucking pro-mitts, anti-swaddling, you wretch!" is one of the best sentences in the history of English, also.


    April 11, 2014

  • In this week's New Yorker there was a cartoon about babies that drive--it wouldn't have been as funny if I didn't know about this page.

    February 10, 2012

  • Dear Prolagus two years ago,

    Thanks! I was wondering about that.

                                    Your pal,

                                    leaden two years later

    October 12, 2011

  • I dreamt about Toonces the other night. He wasn't actually speaking French, but he was mrkgnao-ing in a distinctly Joycean fashion.

    October 11, 2011

  • Dontcry, it appears that sentence requires brackets by popular acclaim.

    June 9, 2011

  • My favorite excerpt from this whole fracas has to be:

    "Yes, yes, soft cheeses, of course. We're not monsters! "

    That is pure Wordnik gold, right there, folks!

    June 8, 2011

  • I'm very curious why "fucking pro-mitts" was never bracketed. Or varying lengths of that sentence of Yarb's.

    June 8, 2011

  • It is, sionnach. Truly it is. As bilby so aply put it, "Sometimes you can sort of explain Wordie to your friends. And sometimes ... "

    June 8, 2011

  • Amazing.

    June 8, 2011

  • Oh dear God. This is the BEST PAGE EVER!!!

    June 7, 2011

  • I do. I just ran into him at the coffee maker. Hard.

    May 25, 2010

  • Better ask chained. She thinks she works with that guy.

    May 24, 2010

  • I think the true monster must have been Moro. Seriously--what kind of hypnic jerk goes around startling infants just to see whether they'll whack themselves in the face?

    May 22, 2010

  • R: I'm sneaky like that.

    December 13, 2009

  • c_b, awwww! I'm touched!

    December 4, 2009

  • dontcry, I just wanted to mention that every time I swaddle my new infant (which is several times a day—er, night), I think of this: "Yes, yes, soft cheeses, of course. We're not monsters!"

    That is all.

    December 4, 2009

  • *jerks hypnically*

    Oh...sorry, jennarenn.

    December 2, 2009

  • I want to thank Pro for clearing up sionnach's comment. Heaven forbid we layabouts miss any inside joke. :)

    December 1, 2009

  • What a fine discussion this is - both amusing and educational. That's infotainment, Wordnik-style!

    P.S. Pro, how's the bunny? (My munny is still on Toonces!)

    November 30, 2009

  • *loves this page*

    I am never leaving the internet for 5 days ever again.

    April 26, 2009

  • *snort*


    April 23, 2009

  • God Save Wordie.

    *salutes, but ends up smacking self in the nose*

    April 22, 2009

  • Yes. Yes. Sometimes there's just one list to add it to.

    *hands dontcry a nice wetwipe moistened with umbrage*

    *hands sionnach a nice soft swaddly straitjacket*

    April 22, 2009

  • Sometimes you can sort of explain Wordie to your friends. And sometimes ...

    April 22, 2009

  • Yes, yes, soft cheeses, of course. We're not monsters!

    *tries to wipe freshly cut, soft cheese, from corner of mouth but ends up wacking self in face instead*

    *takes umbrage, then wacks self in face with it as well*

    Where the HELL are those mitts?

    Give me ten on Toonces.

    April 22, 2009

  • I am so relieved that Yarb is not truly mad that I can barely contain my limbs from flailing spontaneously. But I am managing to contain them, not because I am wearing mitts or being swaddled by the little old lady who lives up in the attic, but because of the distracting joy engendered by imagining a roller derby contest runoff between tiny swaddled monster babies, Prolagus's grand mal bunny, and Toonces.

    No offence to your epileptic companion animal, Pro, but my money is on Toonces.

    April 22, 2009

  • Future generations of Wordies need to know that sionnach wrote his comment the same day douchebaguette was added.

    April 22, 2009

  • Of course I'm not really mad. Here, I hereby hand back all this phony umbrage. I clear all my overdrafts and lines of credit with the International Bank of Phony Umbrage (IBoPU).

    April 22, 2009

  • I can't tell if yarb's actually mad (I hope not!), but if not, this page is just tits.

    Would you like some nice umbrage on a cracker, yarb? It's Wensleydale.

    April 22, 2009

  • I don't hate mitts! I'm fucking pro-mitts, anti-swaddling, you wretch!

    April 22, 2009

  • I think that, if amyone has evil designs on those mummy-swaddled monster babies on the island, it would be Toonces. We all know how cats are with babies - give them half a chance and they will be lurking around, trying to steal their breath away. Plus, in Toonces' case, he would have the getaway vehicle parked right there out in back, by the edge of the canyon.

    I take umbrage at c_b's careless misreading of my earlier remarks and her transparent efforts to stir up discord. I never said that yarb was a monster, just that he swaddled little monster babies against their will. Why do you hate mitts and freedom so, yarb?

    I would like my umbrage with a little baby-sliced soft cheese on a baguette, hold the douche.

    April 22, 2009

  • I take umbrage at the suggestion that infants displaying a Moro reflex should not be allowed to drive, at sionnach's suggestion that yarb is a monster, at yarb's suggestion that swaddling resembles foot-binding (which actually causes a deformity), and at dontcry's suggestion that one may slice cheese with a properly swaddled infant. Madam, tell the whole story! Only soft cheese!

    Also I take umbrage that at this moment, I do not have any cheese.

    But if anyone wants any of my umbrage, I'll happily share.

    April 22, 2009

  • Mr. dontcry used to swaddle our babies so tight you could slice cheese with them. He would, were he a wordie, take umbrage with loose, amateurish swaddling.

    April 22, 2009

  • I'm just going to take a teensy bit more umbrage here, this time at sionnach's suggestion that I am some kind of maniacal baby- (or monster-) swaddler. I have only ever swaddled in the loosest, most amateur fashion, and serious swaddling grosses me out with its resemblance to mummification and foot-binding.

    I think there might actually be an Island of Moro, in the Philippines or Indonesia somewhere? I wonder if Wells ever visited.

    April 21, 2009

  • It's true, the dangers of epileptic lagomorph driving are totally underrated. Isn't there some group formed to raise awareness?

    April 21, 2009

  • My rabbit suffered from epileptic attacks, that used to last a few minutes with no consequences.

    I took her to the vet, and he told me there was not much to do, unless I wanted to sedate her, and he added that epileptic attacks were not a big deal for her, as long as I didn't let her drive.

    April 21, 2009

  • Actually, no, I think that sensation in adults (which I get too, and I hate it) has another name... Lemme see... *rifles through lists*

    Here it is: hypnagogic startle or hypnic jerk (hey, I think I work with that guy!). It's on my "What I Hate" list.

    I'm guessing the difference is that in babies, the Moro reflex is in response to external stimuli, while for the hypnagogic startle (as I can attest), THERE IS NO GODDAMNED REASON.

    *resumes composure*

    April 21, 2009

  • I didn't know babies were allowed to drive.

    April 21, 2009

  • "Moro is a very important early health indicator and is routinely induced by maternity workers as part of their evaluation of a newborn's health."

    The auditory startle test was a routine part of our toxicology protocols in rats, as a way of trying to ensure that our test drugs weren't addling their little rat brains unduly. Afterwards they would get a lovely refreshing swim in the maze to see if they could remember where the platform was. Though personally, I always suspected some of the more maladjusted lab techs of occasionally moving the platform just for their own sadistic amusement.

    April 21, 2009

  • Wasn't there an island with little baby monsters in swaddling clothes (now it is revealed that they were probably swaddled by yarb against their little infant wills while in a doped up state), who crawled around looking like little mummies looking for their mummies. The Island of Doctor Moro, I believe it was called.

    Eventually the United Nations made emergency drops of oven mitts and all was well.

    April 21, 2009

  • Oh, now I get what it's referring to. I do this too sometimes. I think this confirms I'm still a baby.

    April 21, 2009

  • Um... I still "moro" sometimes just as I'm drifting off to sleep. I get the sensation that I'm abut to fall off the bed... Can I take that "6 months OR MORE..." part literally?

    *where are those damn mitts?*

    April 21, 2009

  • That was funny about the baby driving.

    April 21, 2009

  • Hey, can I have your umbrage if you're not using it?

    April 21, 2009

  • I take umbrage at your remark, yarb, and might ask you the same, etc. etc.

    (It's much quicker this way, huh?)

    April 20, 2009

  • Are you trying to stop me taking umbrage? Why do you hate freedom? Etc etc.

    April 20, 2009

  • I've noticed it as a startle reflex as well, but 90% of the time it was when the baby was drifting off or half-awake. I have also known some babies who really hated mitts (and socks for that matter).

    Still, I don't think it's "grossly" misinformative; perhaps incomplete, at worst. There are plenty of other sources of this information—this quote was a small sidebar buried in the back of the book, and I found it kind of amusing. The point is, there's nothing dangerous about the reflex.

    Unless, as we used to joke, the baby is supposed to be doing something requiring focus (such as driving). Because if someone were to honk their horn and startle her, her hands would fly off the wheel and take about 8 seconds to come back down.

    April 20, 2009

  • I'm very surprised by the quote below, which, though no paediatrician, I'm fairly sure is grossly misinformative. It implies that the Moro reflex is sleep-related, but it is not. Rather it is a startle reflex, produced in response to loud sounds or the sensation of falling (which latter might conceivably - though I don't know if anyone's proved it - occur during light sleep). Moro is a very important early health indicator and is routinely induced by maternity workers as part of their evaluation of a newborn's health.

    I find it very hard to imagine a baby "whacking himself in the face" as a result of a Moro reaction, in which the arms are thrust outward and the fingers grab for a hold.

    Newborns sometimes scratch their faces during sleep, which can be alleviated by lots of nail trimming and wearing mitts. Neither of my newborns minded wearing mitts while sleeping, perhaps because they were asleep and didn't know anything about it. I've always thought swaddling (in the modern, Western sense) was slightly odd, but I suppose that's just me.

    April 20, 2009

  • "When a young baby has drifted into light sleep, he might startle himself awake by inadvertently whacking himself in the face. It has been theorized that this common newborn limb flailing, known as the Moro reflex, is a vestigial monkey move—the baby reaching out to clutch the mother's fur for safety. Some babies get little scratch marks all over from Moro reflex-related smacking. It's not dangerous or in any way abnormal (but it does sound rather hilarious—C_B), and scratches heal on babies practically overnight, but it can get in the way of sleep. There are little mitts available to prevent this, though not everyone thinks they're a good idea (including the babies who hate wearing them). Some babies seem to experience this reflex more than others, and it can take 6 months or more for it to fade. Swaddling can help control this self-smacking if it's getting to be a problem."

    —Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris, From the Hips, 339

    April 20, 2009