Sunday, October 16, 2005

Don't Forget to Celebrate National Dictionary Day!

I am slightly perturbed over missing a chance to post on Banned Books Week at the end of September. I could have waxed poetic on all the lovely things that have been banned over the years (Tropic of Cancer, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Tin Drum...). Then I would have compiled a rather useful list of books that have not been banned, but most certainly should be: Bergdorf Blondes (a novel), Donny and Marie (Rock'n Pop Stars), The Autobiography of Pat Robertson...)

Instead, I shall have to content myself with a terribly lame post on National Dictionary Day.

What is the proper way to celebrate Dictionary Day? It is a profound question that has troubled many for years. Some aficionados recommend roaming around aimlessly with little party hats and noisemakers that should be blown at the first sign of a misspelling, improper use of a contraction, or other grammatical error. Others throw quite festive little parties replete with chocolate cakes, word games and colorful shrines devoted to Samuel Johnson.

I usually just wear enormous glasses and play Scrabble myself, but to-day you are in for a treat! I am generously providing a handy list of my very favorite words for you to sprinkle liberally throughout your conversations today. I also recommend carrying a little red pen around with you to make on-the-spot corrections to various things when necessary.

absquatulate: v, To depart in a hurry

Floccinaucinihilpilification: n, an act or instance of judging something to be worthless or trivial

glossolalia: n, Fabricated and meaningless speech, usually associated with a trance state or certain schizophrenic syndromes

galligaskins: n, wide and very loose trousers

hobbledehoy: n, a clumsy or awkward youth

ignivomous:: adj, vomiting fire

mugwump: n, a person who remains aloof from controversial issues

pettifogging: adj, something petty or trivial

sesquipedalian: n, a very long word

snollygaster: n, A shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician.

steganography: n, the art of creating and transmitting hidden messages

triskaidekaphobia: n, an abnormal fear of the number 13

usufructuary: n, a person who has the use of and enjoyment of something, especially property, that belongs to another

And of course, my absolute favorite of all time...
Nihilartikel: n, a deliberately erroneous entry in a dictionary or other reference book

Don't forget to celebrate on this Auspicious Occasion!


Anonymous Professor Twain said...

Lainey, once again you have risen to the occasion. Had you not been called to the IT profession you would have made a great librarian.
However, you have overlooked the fact that there are many different kinds of dictionaries. One very important dictionary variant is the Urban Dictionary. This dictionary is especially important for an aged gentleman such as myself who has a 19th century mentality but has to be "hip" to the "lingo" of young people (as a father and professor to kids who get younger every year). I use the Urban Dictionary to help me prepare lectures that will be "tight" and that will not be "dissed". The Urban Dictionary can be found online at

Here are some words that YOU should be aware of in case you work with teenagers or "urban youth":

G Thang: A Thang that is involved with da' homies...such as bling bling or big ass.

f'shizzle my n'izzle: It simply means for sure my nigga!

e-balls: A tendency to be bold and brash via internet correspondence, while being rather meek in a face-to-face setting.

H-Squared: Hot N Horny Baby! (H to the second power)

A Box Of Assorted Creams: I will let interested readers look this one up in the Urban Dictionary.

I join you in celebrating this great American holiday and thank you for yet another thought provoking and entertaining blog.

6:16 PM  
Blogger roselle said...

i can't even pronounce Floccinaucinihilpilification...and i'm judging it as trivial at the moment and unworth of my efforts!!!

ok i'm lazy!!!

which brings me to the fact that my bed looks EXACTLY like the one in your previous post!!! No one sent me my award either!


8:31 PM  
Blogger L said...

Professor: your comments are quite edifying, as always! I shall be sure to peruse the Urban Dictionary, as I am frequently misunderstood when discussing various things with my homeboys.

9:14 PM  
Blogger L said...

atractiva: my bed does too! and isn't Floccinaucinihilpilification the best word ever?

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with L about Floccinaucinihilpilification. Except I dare not attempt to type it out. Just cut and paste for me! I spread the gospel about that word.. I'm so pathetic! Professor I do have a question. Is it wise to use urban lingo instead of proper english simply because you want to get their attention? Does it benefit in their wanting to learn "old english"? I'm southern and I married a Yankee so when I said "oil" it came out "Ole" but I've since changed how I say many things.. couldn't they, the "youngins" simply pick up on good 'ole' english? Did that make sense?. It's late and I just put my three children to bed so my brain isn't keeping up with my fingers. My apologies if I make absolutely no sense. Ok now I know I'm rambling.

9:15 PM  
Blogger L said...

Anonymous: it is indeed sad when the youngins cannot speak proper English. They be all jivin' an shit... damn!

11:12 PM  
Anonymous VirusHead said...

mugwump: n, a person who remains aloof from controversial issues

A bit like muggles, then?

That is not at all the impression I get from the works of William Burroughs or the film Naked Lunch. I have a visual image of a mugwump in my mind....

In any case, probably the politcal nuance is less about being "aloof" than being uncertain, or betraying both sides. John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Arlen Spector. "Fence-sitting" Mugwumps have part of their body on the Democratic side and part on the Republican side - the "mug" and the "wump". I leave it to you to decide which is which.

Here's another little something on the way the meanings seem to have shifted.

11:43 PM  
Blogger L said...

virus head: I love mugwump! what a great word

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Rhodent said...

Terrific! I can't wait to use the word "snollygaster" on someone!

Okay. I have to absquatulate now!

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Happy and Blue said...


10:10 PM  
Anonymous Rhodent said...

When do we get an update on the accidentally acquired man? HMMMM?

10:10 PM  
Anonymous mr. anigans said...

OHHHH!!! Too little too late. Why just the other day I was vomiting fire left and right (well, maybe more like belching). As the hospital asked me what my symptoms were I was caught flat-footed without "ignivomous" in my vocab. And thus, I expired.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous glomgold said...

"Absquatulate". I'm keeping that one. It's like "squat" and "flatulate" all mixed into one!

10:10 PM  
Anonymous glomgold said...

Hey, wait a minute! That word's not in my dictionary. L, you've tricked me again!

10:10 PM  
Blogger L said...

Rhodent: already your vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds!

Happy&Blue: I'm sure you'll like my next post much better

Rhodent: if he is able to join me for Fantasy Fest, you shall hear more about him I'm sure

Mr. Anigans: I'm sorry that I wasn't able to aid you in a timely manner

glomgold: that one is actually rather obscure, so would only be in some dictionaries used by very, very, very, very, very, very, geeky persons such as myself :)

10:10 PM  
Anonymous weary hag said...

Mugwump. It's words like that I wish I had under my belt during my first marriage.

Excellent job on the post!

[raises tea cup in great lexiconial appreciation even though I missed the day completely]

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Jim Bliss said...

I always assumed 'mugwump' was invented by Burroughs. Just goes to show. You learn something new every day.

Your omission of 'tarantism', however, was a little disappointing.

10:11 PM  
Blogger L said...

Weary Hag: there's always next year

Jim Bliss: I shall strive to remember 'tarantism' next time!

10:11 PM  
Anonymous (: said...

as one of my friends uses the word all the time Floccinaucinihilpilification is pronounced flock-ee-knock-ee-knee-hill-pill-if-ication

6:29 PM  
Anonymous ?>) said...

The word (Floccinaucinihilpilification) is what the word itself means. Though the word seems cool, it is definitely not necessary. It's using less word to describe a something that is so long it is valueless. At the same time the word has probably more letters than the words that are shortened down.

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd say.... You might wish to know that snollygaster is not indeed what you say it is... You have defined a snollygoster. A snollygaster is a mythical creature that preys on poultry and children. And though wishing to insult politicians, calling them snollygasters might take it a bit too far.

8:42 PM  

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