Writers. We write. And our tools are words. So, while contemplating this week’s blog post, I had the brilliant idea of writing about words and their definitions, using… words and their definitions. It’s almost perfect. If by “perfect” I mean “utterly confusing and almost entirely pointless.” So, anyway, a couple years ago, The New York Times compiled a list of the 50 words most likely to stump their own readers. Amazingly, “defenestrate” was not among them (if it had been, I would have defined it as “To demonstrate a specialty fencing technique often used to remove the fins of albacore tuna”). Unhelpfully, perhaps, they neglected to include definitions. Which is where I come in. Don’t get me wrong—this being the internet which, like nature, abhors a vacuum—somebody already came along and performed this admirable service, but I’m going to go one better. I will proceed to pick 13 of the 50 words, more or less at random, and provide not one but two definitions, one of which is the correct one and one which I made up out of whole cloth for no other reason than to be extremely annoying. And if you’re just as bored as me (woah, Cobain flash), you can follow along and expose me for the consummate liar I am. And since I’m also most likely stealing this whole idea from a board game or something, I’m a liar and a thief (lookit, another Cobain flash).
a) The act of saying no to the wearing of artificial fragrance. Smells like teen spirit? Uh-uh. Not a chance when we’re being all nascent.
b) Just coming into existence and beginning to display signs of future potential.
a) Excessive pride.
b) A type of cheese rendered from human fat. Illegal in most countries.
a) While reciting the months of the year, “jejune” is the act of stammering inexplicably over the summer months (see also, “Jejuly”).
b) Naïve, simple.
a) Reckless extravagance; wastefulness.
b) The entire body of work left by an academic.
a) Sternness or severity of manner or attitude.
b) The quality of an upside down gaze, chiefly Aus. Was coined during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics by tourists attempting to capture the peculiar way Australians stared at them and their touristy Northern Hemisphere ways.
a) The slightly desperate and certainly reckless act of slipping your own sister a sedative to shut her up after a long day of her pointing out how badly you suck at life.
b) The view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.
a) Formidable, esp. as an opponent.
b) Something so ludicrously implausible that you will not only doubt it, but you will return and doubt it again.
a) Noisy and difficult to control.
b) Behaviour typical of a gynaecologist with a throat infection.
a) A flightless bird from Antarctica that has been officially sanctified by the Vatican.
b) Optimistic or hopeful, especially in a bad situation.
a) Outstandingly bad; shocking.
b) An online lobbying group for men named Greg.
a) A drug store employee native to Poland.
b) A person skilled in verbal or written attacks.
a) Leadership or dominance of one country over another.
b) The unit of currency used in small hedgehog economies.
a) Lacking initiative or strength of character.
b) The baffling inability to use profanity in the country of Ireland.
I hope this was an enjoyable exercise for you all. Personally, since puns make me physically ill, I found it excruciating, but in the last words of someone who keeps spookily hijacking my post from beyond the grave: peace, love, empathy (the latter meaning “an illness brought on by exposure to the letter ‘m’”).
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