Posts Tagged ‘words’

It’s Tuesday, so it must be time for a language abuse post.  Today is all about modifiers that aren’t placed in the right place, thus conveying rather different meanings than the writers intended, more fun from Richard Lederer’s Anguished English.  Hang on, because here we go.

No one was injured in the blast, which was attributed to a buildup of gas by one town official.

Yoko Ono will talk about her husband, John Lennon, who was killed in an interview with Barbara Walters.

Plunging 1,000 feet into the gorge, we saw Yosemite Falls.


Two cars were reported stolen by the Groveton police yesterday.

After years of being lost under a pile of dust, Chester D. Thatcher III found all the old records of the Bangor Lions Club at the Bangor House.

Do not sit in chair without being fully assembled.

Here are some suggestions for handling obscene phone calls from New England Telephone Company.

The judge sentenced the killer to die in the electric chair for the second tie.


I’m a history buff, so this mash-up of student bloopers makes me laugh until I cry.  I don’t know if you’ll cry, but I’m quite sure you’ll laugh, possibly out loud.


‘The World According to Student Bloopers’

by Richard Lederer

One of the fringe benefits of being an English or History teacher is receiving the occasional jewel of a student blooper in an essay. I have pasted together the following “history” of the world from certifiably genuine student bloopers collected by teachers through the U.S., from eighth grade through college. Read carefully, and you will learn a lot.

The inhabitants of ancient Egypt were called mummies, and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert and traveled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere, so certain areas of the dessert are cultivated by irritation.


Three Dog Night may think that “One is the loneliest number”, but in this case, one is the funniest number.  We’re back with the 2013 Washington Post again, this time with their Style Invitational.  Here’s how it works.  And yes, once again I was laughing out loud!

The Washington Post’s Style Invitational asks readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

The winners were:


What on earth is a bienapropism??  Richard Lederer says that “The best malapropisms are those that leap across the chasm of absurdity and land on the side of truth” and dubs them bienapropisms, in the spirit of the French roots.  My interpretation?  Bien (good) + appropriate + malapropism = lots of fun!!  Here are some examples, again from Anguished English.  Read ’em and weep.

  1. The cookbook is being compiled.  Please submit your favorite recipe and a short antidote concerning it.
  2. We sold our house and moved into one of those pandemoniums.
  3. To be a leader, you have to develop a spear de corps.
  4. Senators are chosen as committee chairmen on the basis of senility.
  5. The hills were worn down by eroticism.
  6. Apartheid is a pigment of the imagination.
  7. Certainly the pleasures of youth are great, but they are nothing compared to the pleasures of adultery.
  8. The defendant pleaded exterminating circumstances.
  9. Finally, this one that we’ve used for fun in our family for years:  It’s a fragment of your imagination.

Happy Tuesday!

Happy hunkering!

Posted: February 26, 2016 in Miscellaneous, Musings
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 (I’m on my way to Ohio today for an extended weekend, so my photo challenge entry will have to wait until tomorrow.  In the meantime...)

A winter storm warning, high winds, and blowing snow bring to mind the comforts of hunkering down at home. “Hunkering” is a wonderful word, full of nuances and associations. Strictly speaking, “hunker” means to squat down, often for a long time. But it’s the informal meanings that contain richer meanings:

 to hide, hide out, or take shelter.

 Those meanings might not be so enjoyable if you’re caught outside without shelter or if your weather forecast includes a tornado, hurricane, or other natural disaster. But that’s not where we’re going.  We’re headed home or, if you prefer, to a lodge hidden away somewhere that’s special to you.

Come in. Grab an armful of wood while you’re on the porch, leave your boots by the door. Sit down. Relax. Watch the flames dance in the stove. Tea or hot chocolate? I have marshmallows and more tea choices than you can imagine. Grab a throw if you’re cold. Yes, that’s soup you smell and the bread’s almost ready to come out of the bread machine. You’re welcome to work the puzzle on the dining room table, board games are over there, books are everywhere. Or we can just sit and talk. It’s so good to see you.

In my mind, “hunkering” includes being able to look out the window and see the beauty of a snowy day. You could hunker during rainy conditions, but no one can hunker when the sun’s shining and it’s hot.  Heat allows you to lounge in a hammock or on the beach, stretching cat-like in the warmth. Hunkering is curling up, drawing inward, conserving warmth, battening down the hatches.

After food, drink, and renewal, I want to be able to don outdoor clothes and boots, head outside with my camera, phone or Nikon, to take post-hunkering photos, followed later on by an evening of watching a hockey game while sipping a dark beer and eating home-popped popcorn.   In the morning, the sun will hopefully be shining on all that newly fallen show.

Those of us in the northern hemisphere are moving inexorably toward non-hunkering time, while those in the other half of the world are anticipation (or dreading), the approaching hunkering time. Whichever part of the world you call home, I hope you have at least one time soon to enjoy hunkering; alone, with a pet, or with family and friends.  Happy hunkering!

© janet m. webb 2016

Crystalline words

Posted: March 5, 2015 in Quotes
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Words are like bits of crystal, the more faceted, the more beautiful. Speech should not be boring.

               Hu Chang in What Doesn’t Kill You, by Iris Johansen

Don’t forget that words can also be like bits of crystal in their ability to cut and hurt.  We must be careful which facet we’re showing or using.