v. to lead a wicked life
TO BE LET,
To an Oppidan, a Ruricolist, or a Cosmopolitan, and may be entered upon immediately:
The House in STONE Row, lately possessed by CAPT. SIREE. To avoid Verbosity, the Proprietor with Compendiosity will give a Perfunctory description of the Premises, in the Compagination of which he has Sedulously studied the convenience of the Occupant. It is free from Opacity, Tenebrosity, Fumidity, and Injucundity, and no building can have greater Pellucidity or Translucency — in short, its Diaphaneity even in the Crepuscle makes it like a Pharos, and without laud, for its Agglutination and Amenity, it is a most Delectable Commorance; and whoever lives in it will find that the Neighbors have none of the Truculence, the Immanity, the Torvity, the Spinosity, the Putidness, the Pugnacity, nor the Fugacity observable in other parts of the town, but their Propinquity and Consanguinity occasion Jocundity and Pudicity — from which, and the Redolence of the place (even in the dog-days), they are remarkable for Longevity. For terms and particulars apply to JAMES HUTCHINSON, opposite the MARKET-HOUSE.
— “Dub. News.,” quoted in Charles Carroll Bombaugh, Gleanings for the Curious from the Harvest-Fields of Literature, 1890
n. a woman’s sublimation of sexual desire through cooking
In Literary Frivolities, Fancies, Follies and Frolics (1880), William Dobson tells of a curious spectacle presented to Stanislaus, the future king of Poland, on his return to Lissa:
There appeared on the stage thirteen dancers, dressed as youthful warriors; each held in his hand a shield, on which was engraved in characters of gold one of the thirteen letters which compose the two words DOMUS LESCINIA. They then commenced their dance, and so arranged it that at each turn their row of bucklers formed different anagrams. At the first pause they presented them in the natural order:
DOMUS LESCINIA [O (heir to the) House of Lescinius,]
At the second: ADES INCOLUMIS [Thou art present with us still unimpaired–]
At the third: OMNIS ES LUCIDA [Thou art all that is wonderful.]
At the fourth: MANE SIDUS LOCI [Stay with us, O sun of our land!]
At the fifth: SIS COLUMNA DEI [Thou art one of God’s supporters—]
At the last: I, SCANDE SOLIUM. [Come, ascend thy regal throne.]
“This last was the more beautiful,” writes Robert Moritz, “since it proved a true prophecy.”
v. to drop dung on from above
n. the mistress of a priest
Now, that is a word that may often be joined,
For that that may be doubled is clear to the mind;
And that that that is right, is as plain to the view,
As that that that that we use, is rightly used, too,
And that that that that that line has in it, is right–
In accordance with grammar — is plain in our sight.
— Charles Carroll Bombaugh, Gleanings for the Curious from the Harvest-Fields of Literature, 1890
n. a pitiful or insignificant lover
Convinced that other newspapers were stealing his news items, the publisher of the Kennett Square (Pa.) Kennett News and Advertiser invented a story about two Indians named Yrotss Ihte Lotsi and Ffutsse Lpoepre Htognil Aets.
Sure enough, the West Chester Daily Local News rewrote the piece for its Jan. 27, 1940, issue. Read the names backward.
n. a day’s work
n. one with a hatred of mental activity
During World War II, Evelyn Waugh served as a war correspondent in Ethiopia. One day his editor asked him to investigate a rumor that an American nurse had been killed in an explosion during an Italian air raid. The cable read:
REQUIRE EARLIEST NAME LIFE STORY PHOTOGRAPH AMERICAN NURSE UPBLOWN.
Waugh found that the rumor was false, so he wired back:
adj. having ugly buttocks
What’s unusual about this nursery rhyme?
Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor dog a bone,
But when she got there
The cupboard was bare
And so her poor dog had none.
It’s 30 words long but does not contain the letter I.
See also Nevermore.
Sam Loyd tells the story of a feud between two Cincinnati newspapers. One of them, the Star in the West, published the following poem by an anonymous contributor, praising its originality and beauty:
The genial spring once more with chaplets crowned
Has showered her choicest blessings all around.
Each silent valley and each verdant lawn
Enriched with flowers, looks smiling as the dawn
Demure and modest hued the violet grows;
In yonder garden blooms the blushing rose;
To these the lilac adds her fragrant dower
Of perfume cherished by the sun and shower.
Reviving Flora walks the world a queen
Of kingdoms peerless as a fairy scene.
Far o’er the hills, in many a graceful line,
The rainbow blossoms of the orchard shine.
How softly mingled all their tints unite,
Embalm the air and bless the grateful sight!
Sweet voices now are heard on every tree,
The breeze, the bird, the murmur of the bee.
And down the cliff, where rocks oppose in vain,
Runs the clear stream in music of the plain.
In noisy groups, far from their southern home,
Now round the lofty spire the swallows roam;
The fearless robin builds with glossy leaves
Her fragile nest beneath the farmer’s eaves;
Embowered in woods the partridge makes her bed
With silken moss o’er tender osiers spread;
Each happy bird expands his dappled wings,
Soars with his gentle mate and sweetly sings.
The sounds of early husbandry arise
In pleasing murmurs to the pale blue skies;
Shrill floats the ploughman’s whistle while he speeds
Along the yielding earth his patient steeds.
Joyous the life which tills the pregnant soil,
And sweet the profits of the farmer’s toil.
Content, as smiling as an angel face
Keeps peaceful vigil round his dwelling place,
And gentle Hope and Love, forever bright,
Smiling like seraphs in their bowers of light,
Salute his mornings and embalm each night.
His rival sweetly suggested he read the first letter of each line.
ANGERED = ENRAGED
PROBLEM IN CHINESE = INCOMPREHENSIBLE
DECIMAL POINT = I’M A DOT IN PLACE
DELICATESSEN = ENSLICED EATS
FRAGILE = E.G., FRAIL
ARMAGEDDON = MAD GOD NEAR
WAITRESS = A STEW, SIR?
STORMY WEATHER = SHOWERY MATTER
THE RELIEF PITCHER = FIERCE HITTER? HELP!
WILD OATS = SOW IT, LAD
FALSEHOOD = HAS FOOLED
SUNBATHE = HEAT BUNS
THE PIANO BENCH = BENEATH CHOPIN
In the 1890s, William Randoph Hearst’s New York Journal was in a circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. When the World published an obituary of “Reflipe W. Thanuz,” Hearst revealed a trap — there was no such person, so Pulitzer must have stolen the item from his paper. (“Reflipe W” is “we pilfer” spelled backward, and “Thanuz” is “the news”.)
Pulitzer got his revenge, though. He planted the name “Lister A. Raah” in a World story, and when the Journal ran a similar item, he revealed that the name was an anagram of “Hearst a liar.”
See also Nihilartikels.
adj. having deep cleavage
A “snowball sentence” contrived by Dmitri Borgmann — each word is one letter longer than the last:
I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting; nevertheless, extraordinary pharmaceutical intellectuality, counterbalancing indecipherability, transcendentalizes intercommunications’ incomprehensibleness.
v. to cover with an inverted bowl
THE NUDIST COLONY = NO UNTIDY CLOTHES
A SENTENCE OF DEATH = FACES ONE AT THE END
AN AISLE = IS A LANE
IS PITY LOVE? = POSITIVELY
CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE = CAN RUIN A SELECTED VICTIM
CABARET = A BAR, ETC.
THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA = A DICTIONARY CAN BE ELEPHANTIC
GREYHOUND = HEY, DOG, RUN!
H.M.S. PINAFORE = NAME FOR SHIP
COMMITTEES = COST ME TIME
HEARTHSTONES = HEAT’S THRONES
THE DAWNING = NIGHT WANED
A STRIP-TEASER = ATTIRE SPARSE