Originally Published: August 10, 2009 10 p.m.
As noted in this past week's column focusing on "Esar's Comic Dictionary," a little volume that a friend, Willi Waak, passed along to me a while back, the definitions therein are such that would never be found in Webster's instructive but mundane "take" on them.
The compilation by Evan Esar, published in 1943, is described on its cover as containing "wisecracks, puns, comic rhymes, gags, definitions, epigrams, comic proverbs, boners, quips, witticisms, silly similes, nonsense, etc.," and bills itself as "the dictionary that's arranged laffabetically from A to Z."
So here goes, following up as promised with selected "n" through "z" references after last week's "a" through "m" batch. (You sharp-eyed readers will no doubt note that there is no listing for "x," the reason being that Esar skipped it himself. No great loss, of course, although it does seem discriminatory.)
As always, the inane parenthetical references are nobody's fault but my own:
naked - "Not all nudists go naked: some dress their wounds, and others have coats on their tongues." (Others, of course, are clothed in immodesty.)
outcome - "The outcome of the income depends on the outgo for the upkeep." (Did you hear the one about the couple who got a divorce on the grounds of incompatibility? He didn't have any income and she wasn't very pattible.)
pessimist - "One who feels bad when he feels good for fear he'll feel worse when he feels better." (Trust me: you'll feel better by simply opting for optimism.)
quest - "Love is the quest, marriage the conquest, divorce the inquest." (Just don't request a bequest at the inquest. Settle instead for alimony or even palimony.)
requirement - "Many a college lowers its entrance requirements with a specific end in view - not to mention promising halfbacks and quarterbacks." (A prism on pigskinism.)
skeleton - "A lot of bones with the people scraped off." (And you can find a lot of them in cemeteries and closets.)
termite - "People who live in wooden houses shouldn't throw termites." (Didja hear the one about the termite who walked into a saloon and asked: "Is the bar 'tender' here?")
useless - "The truth and the news are never the same: one is useless if not whole, the other is useless if not broken." (In truth, a sort of newsworthy observation.)
voter - "There are two kinds of voters: those who will vote for your candidate, and a lot of prejudiced fools." (A narrow view that covers a wide range.)
where - "To get anywhere, strike out for somewhere, or you'll get nowhere." (Legend dictates that the now-extinct dodo bird flew backwards. Why? Well, it didn't care where it was going, but liked to see where it had been.)
yeast - "If an alarm clock won't make you rise, try yeast." (Especially if you plan on making any "dough".)
zero - "It's nothing at all." (With that paean to nothingness, I bid you farewell. Have a good day, hear?)
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