Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Dictionaries Part 3

There's A Word For It!: A Grandiloquent Guide to Life by Charles Harrington Elster


This book has more good words than your grandmammy at Thanksgiving. While horbgorble, chankings and jowfair righteously emblazon the front cover, the inside words topple them like an ice man turning into rain.

misodoctakleidist: (MIS-oh-DAHK-tuh-KLY-dist)  someone who hates practicing the piano.

mastophobia:  fear of the (female) breasts.

HOW TO MURDER A MASTOPHOBE

The mastophobe becomes distressed
When you say, "Can you keep abreast?"
The merest glimpse of a brassiere
Induces paralyzing fear.

The cover of a Cosmo mag
Will surely make this creature gag.
Sports Illustrated's swimsuit shots
Will twist a mastophobe in knots.
And photos of those Penthouse pets
Will bring on panic and cold swears.

If these techniques don't do the trick
There is one more that works real quick:
Dolly Parton's awesome chest
Should cause a cardiac arrest.

--Melanie Dishe

quomodocunquize:  (kwoh-MOH-doh-KUHNG-kwyz) accumulate wealth by hook or by crook or to make money any way you can. Those quomodocunquizing clusterfists and rapacious varlets," wrote  Sir Thomas Urquhart in 1652, probably referring to unscrupulous hordarians who practice latrocination.


Forgotten English: A Merry Guide to Antiquated Words, Packed with History, Fun Facts, Literary Excerpts, and Charming Drawings by Jeffrey Kacirk


This is less a dictionary of words than one of mini biography of interesting and obscure words. Most have a one page definition with historical commentary on its origin, usage, literary references and sometimes illustrations. The book deserves more attention than I'm going to give it with abbreviated definitions and snippets.

Crapandina  *  Early sixteenth-century name for a mineral, also known as a toad-stone or bufonite, to which extraordinary, if perhaps ironic, healing properties were attributed. The stone was supposed to be a "natural concretion" found in the head of the common toad that acted as an antidote to poison.

The odd belief in the efficacy of the crapandina is evident in the famous line from Shakepeare's As You Like It:

Sweet are the uses of adversity
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.


Eye-servant  *  Defamatory expression for a devious domestic or other employee, also called and eye-waiter from the 1500s to the 1830s, who was too lazy to efficiently perform duties except when "within eyeshot" of his or her master--a form of sincerity known as "eye-service." One medieval explanation for this phenomenon was that servants were stricken with idle worms, tiny worms believed to grow and multiply on their fingers when they were not busy.

...Isaac Watts wrote in his 1715 Songs for Children

In works of labour or of skill,
I would be lazy too,
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.


Farctate  *  The condition of being bloated or full following a large meal. This term hails from the Latin farcire, to stuff, which also gave rise to the thirteenth-century farcemeat, seventeeth-century farcement, and the still-used French farci, all spicy stuffings for meat dishes. In her 1845 Modern Cookery, Eliza Acton doubly implied that another derivative, forcemeat, at least prepared English style, might have had more in common with horsemeat than a rhyming name: "The coarse and unpalatable compounds so constantly met with under the denomination of forcemeat, even at tables otherwise tolerably served, show with how little attention they are perpared."


The Superior Person's Book of Words by Peter Bowler


This book is exactly what it says it is. A no frill dictionary of words with normally succinct definitions, an occasional example and a few brief etymologies.

Satrap  n. ~ A petty or subordinate ruler with despotic power within his own realm. An assistant principal, bus driver, dental nurse, head of a typing pool, hospital matron, motor-vehicle inspector, or headwaiter.

Unnun  v. ~ To defrock (metaphorically speaking) a nun. A delightfull word in itself, and a formidable Scrabble weapon to boot.

Gongoozler  n. ~ One who stares for hours at anything out of the ordinary (such as the word gongoozler).

Cicurate  v. ~ To tame, or reclaim from a state of wildness. "Belinda, I'm not having that young man of yours in the house until he's been thoroughly cicurated."


The Phrase-Dropper's Handbook: Hundreds of field-tested ways to get in, get out, or get on top of any conversation by John T. Beaudouin and Everett Mattlin


This isn't a dictionary at all but a way to use words to impress, cajole or defeat dunderheads. From the hackneyed, pseudo-intellectual buzzwords such as angst, Zeitgeist, kitch, etc. to foreign phrases and the miscellaneous obscure entries.

gallimaufry (a hodgepodge, jumble, hash) "Her life is a gallimaufry of Vuitton, Gucci, Pucci, and Sears."

lagniappe (a gratuity or free extra) A delicious word, exotic, like tropical fruit, but with a simple meaning. "We paid handsomely for the house and the tennis court, so he threw in the Gravely mower--pure lagniappe."

echt (ekt), genuine, the real thing. This is rather a funny little word, sounding like an expletive (echt!), and it can be used playfully, as in referring to the noted German playwright's Mother Courage as "echt Brecht," or combining it with Yiddish and a 180° turn to note that "the Frobishers' furnishings strike me as echt shlock [true junk]."

tant pis (tahn pee) often a curt and easy way to put a period to a remark you can't handle, means, "So much the worse." A professorial type says, "The future of the revolutionary movement is certainly not in this country or in Europe, or even in Africa, but in Latin America." What to say? "Tant pis" gives you the last word.

A nice variant is tant mieux (tahn meeuh), "So much the better." Almost any change in the world can be handled with pis or mieux, and if the change isn't for the better or the worse, well, then you're back to plus ├ža change.

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