Saturday, December 5, 2015

Yes, Virginia, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, is in the Dictionary

Well, it's in Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary, at least. That's Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words, by Mrs. Josefa Heifetz Byrne. And right now you're thinking, "Tom, you're doing it again. You're making stuff up."

And, that's exactly the type of thing I would make up. But not this time. As I write this, I have Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary on my lap. Normally, there would be a cat on my lap, but I've placed a blue cat towel on part of my desk, so for the moment, no kitty helping me type.

According to the Editor's Introduction (Robert Byrne--her husband, I assume), he didn't want her to write the thing. But she did, over a ten year period (makes me feel a little better about taking ten-plus years to write novel number 1), and I love his quote at the end of his intro: "The author and editor apologize for the ammunition this book provides to bad writers." Just makes me want to run my fingers and eyes through the thing, picking odd words at random and tossing them in to whatever I'm writing. Like I'm about to do...

Here are just a few carelessly plucked gems:

Abra--It's a noun, and no, it's not the first part of abracadabra, or the incorrectly spelled name of a Swedish pop group. Spanish in origin, it's "...a narrow mountain pass."

Erf--Another noun, it's "...a half-acre in South Africa." What's a full acre? A double-erf?

Ever run across a sunken, invisible wall? Me either, but a haha is another noun, and it's "...a sunken wall, invisible from a distance." I kid you not.  Ha ha.

Then there's niddle-noddle, meaning "...a wobbly or nodding head." An adjective, one could say someone had a niddle-noddle head. I wouldn't say that, but someone could, if they were so inclined. And guess what? Leave out the hyphen and it's a hand reel for yarn.

No further annoyances for now.

Keep writing, friends.

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