n. the study of brambles
In America, when both people on a date pay for their own meals, we call it “Dutch treat.”
The Dutch have another name for it.
They call it an “American-style party.”
- accommodation car – the caboose of a train
- angelina – young inexperienced kid
- banjo – a small portable frying pan
- bindle stick – collection of belongings wrapped in cloth and tied around a stick
- bone polisher – a mean dog
- bull – a railroad officer
- cannonball – a fast train
- catch the westbound – to die
- chuck a dummy – pretend to faint
- cow crate – a railroad stock car
- crums – lice
- doggin’ it – traveling by bus
- hot shot – a train with priority freight
- jungle – an area near a railroad in which hoboes camp and congregate
- knowledge bus – a schoolbus used for shelter
- road kid – a young hobo who apprentices himself to an older hobo in order to learn the ways of the road
- rum dum – a drunkard
- soup bowl- a palce to get soup, bread and drinks
- yegg – a traveling professional thief
adj. disfigured by weeping
The initials SPQR appear everywhere in Rome — they were emblazoned on the standards of the Roman legions, and they appear today in the city’s coat of arms. The only trouble is that no one knows what they stand for. Historians think it’s probably one of these mottoes:
- Senatus Populus Quiritium Romanus (“The senate and the citizens’ Roman people”)
- Senatus Populusque Quiritium Romanorum (“The senate and people of the Roman citizens”)
- Senatus Populusque Romanus (“The senate and the Roman People”)
- Senatus Populusque Romae (“The senate and the people of Rome”)
But that hasn’t stopped everyone else from making suggestions:
- Sono Pazzi Questi Romani (“These Romans are crazy.”)
- Sono Porci Questi Romani (“Those Romans are pigs.”)
- Solo Pago Quando Ricevo (“I will pay when I get paid.”)
- Soli Preti Qui Regnano (“Only priests rule here.”)
Supposedly Pope John XXIII noted that SPQR backward reads RQPS, which he suggested meant “Rideo Quia Papa Sum” — “I laugh, because I am the Pope.”
There have always been bad students. Here’s what kids were writing on English exams 150 years ago:
- ABORIGINES, a system of mountains.
- ALIAS, a good man in the Bible.
- AMENABLE, anything that is mean.
- AMMONIA, the food of the gods.
- ASSIDUITY, state of being an acid.
- AURIFEROUS, pertaining to an orifice.
- CORNIFEROUS, rocks in which fossil corn is found.
- EMOLUMENT, a headstone to a grave.
- EQUESTRIAN, one who asks questions.
- EUCHARIST, one who plays euchre.
- FRANCHISE, anything belonging to the French.
- IDOLATER, a very idle person.
- IPECAC, a man who likes a good dinner.
- IRRIGATE, to make fun of.
- MENDACIOUS, what can be mended.
- MERCENARY, one who feels for another.
- PARASITE, a kind of umbrella.
- PARASITE, the murder of an infant.
- PUBLICAN, a man who does his prayers in public.
- TENACIOUS, ten acres of land.
- REPUBLICAN, a sinner mentioned in the Bible.
- PLAGIARIST, a writer of plays.
– From Mark Twain, “English as She Is Taught: Being Genuine Answers to Examination Questions in Our Public Schools,” 1887
Words dropped since the 1901 edition of the Chambers Dictionary:
- decacuminated adj. having the top cut off
- effodient adj. habitually digging (zoology)
- essorant adj. about to soar
- flipe v. to fold back, as a sleeve
- lectual adj. confining to the bed
- neogamist n. a person recently married
- nuciform adj. nut-shaped
- numerotage n. the numbering of yarns so as to denote their fineness
- pantogogue n. a medicine once believed capable of purging away all morbid humours
- parageusia n. a perverted sense of taste
- presultor n. the leader of a dance
- ramollescence n. softening, mollifying
- roytish adj. wild, irregular
- sagesse n. wisdom
- salebrous adj. rough, rugged
- sammy v. to moisten skins with water
- sarn n. a pavement
- scavilones n. men’s drawers worn in the sixteenth century under the hose
- tarabooka n. a drumlike instrument
- tortulous adj. having swellings at regular intervals
- wappet n. a yelping cur
n. abnormal compulsion for wandering
“Only the fool would take trouble to verify that his sentence was composed of ten a’s, three b’s, four c’s, four d’s, forty-six e’s, sixteen f’s, four g’s, thirteen h’s, fifteen i’s, two k’s, nine l’s, four m’s, twenty-five n’s, twenty-four o’s, five p’s, sixteen r’s, forty-one s’s, thirty-seven t’s, ten u’s, eight v’s, eight w’s, four x’s, eleven y’s, twenty-seven commas, twenty-three apostrophes, seven hyphens and, last but not least, a single !” — Lee Sallows
Here’s a famous goof from the 1935 edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary.
There’s no such word as dord — the chemistry editor had intended it to say “D or d”, but somehow his slip got misinterpreted and the mistake stayed on the books until 1939.
Editor Philip Babcock Gove later wrote that it was “probably too bad, for why shouldn’t dord mean ‘density’?”
“John Doe” in other countries:
- Australia: Fred Nurk
- Austria: Hans Meier
- Belgium: Jan Janssen
- Colombia: Fulano de Tal
- Croatia: Ivan Horvat
- Czech Republic: Josef Novák
- Estonia: Jaan Tamm
- France: Jean Dupont
- Guatemala: Juan Perez
- Italy: Mario Rossi
- Lithuania: Vardenis Pavardenis
- Malta: Joe Borg
- New Zealand: Joe Bloggs
- Philippines: Juan dela Cruz
- Poland: Jan Kowalski
- Romania: Ion Popescu
- Slovenia: Janez Novak
- South Africa: Koos van der Merwe
In the United States, John Doe is always the defendant. An anonymous plaintiff is Richard Roe.
n. pathological indecisiveness
v. to cloud or obscure
In 2004, French writer Michel Dansel published The Train from Nowhere, a 233-page novel written entirely without verbs.
He even organized a funeral for the verb at Sorbonne in Paris, calling it the “invader, dictator, usurper of our literature.” No word where it’s interred.
n. fear of long words
The sound of Rice Krispies in other languages:
- Finnish: “Riks! Raks! Poks!”
- French: “Cric! Crac! Croc!”
- German: “Knisper! Knasper! Knusper!”
- Swedish: “Piff! Paff! Puff!”
- Spanish: “Pim! Pum! Pam!”
In 2002, pollster Kellyanne Conway found that most Americans could name the three elves but could not name any three of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices.
n. a foolish or petty astrologer
DORMITORY is an anagram of DIRTY ROOM.
Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.
“Whatever is said in Latin seems profound.”
n. the liking of small, enclosed spaces
n. learned dinner conversation
n. hypothetical second Earth on the opposite side of the sun
adj. befitting an epic poet
Headmaster’s Palindromic List on His Memo Pad
|Test on Erasmus||Dr. of Law|
|Deliver slap||Stop dynamo (OTC)|
|Royal: phone no.?||Tel: Law re Kate Race|
|Ref. Football.||Caps on for prep|
|Is sofa sitable on?||Pots — no tops|
|XI — Staff over||Knit up ties (“U”)|
|Sub-edit Nurse’s order||Ned (re paper)|
|Caning is on test (snub slip-up)||Eve’s simple hot dish (crib)|
|Birch (Sid) to help Miss Eve||Pupil’s buns|
|Repaper den||T-set: no sign in a/c|
|Use it||Red roses|
|Put inkspot on stopper||Run Tide Bus?|
|Prof. — no space||Rev off at six|
|Caretaker (wall, etc.)||Noel Bat is a fossil|
|Too many d—- pots||Lab to offer one “Noh” play–or “Pals Reviled”?|
|Wal for duo? (I’d name Dr. O)||Sums are not set.|
|See few owe fees (or demand IOU?)|
– Winning entry in a New Statesman palindrome competition, 1967