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5:34 PM Fri, Jan. 18th

Column: Dictionary pairs make for some strange associations

I have a certain weird fascination for those “headers” at the top of pages in dictionaries that are a big help when it comes to looking up words when searching for spellings and definitions. Provided are the “from” and “to” word selections on each page that include the various words that are sandwiched in between on the page in question. I like to label them as “dictionary duo didoes,” and if you happen to be in the dark on the definition of dido, it’s simply “a mischievous prank or antic.”

Anyway, in recent years I came up with a little game focusing on the duos, accompanied by trite and silly, occasionally cutesy – but sometimes nauseating – references to the top-of-the-page partners that I gleaned from my Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and came up with some columns on the subject. Unfortunately, for you readers, though, I’m opting for another go at it with some new material from my American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. My plan is to divide it into two columns, the first focusing on A to M and the second capping it off next week from N to Z.

If you prefer to not bother with reading either one, too, that’s fine with me. I ain’t proud. After all, I have this friend, Paul Chastain, who has trouble with just about all of my columns and after every one of them wails that “your last column isn’t the WORST you’ve ever written, but for sure it’s among the Top 5!” So Paul, I’m dedicating today’s column to you, just for old-time’s sake.

Here goes:

anecdotic/angina: Yeah, Chastain, some of my anecdotes make OTHER people sick too.

Aspen/assault: Broken Leg Run is quite the challenge for you skiers.

bigwig/billion: Looks like a good fund-raising goal, Donald.

bodacious/boil: And it hurts when I sit down!

cabin boy/cacophonous: Cool it, son … we’re getting complaints from the high rollers in the upper deck luxury suites.

candidate/cannibal: Just eating their WORDS should be enough to whet their appetite.

chatterbox/check-out: Yada, yada, yada … do you take American Express?

clientele/Clinton: “A 100-grand donation will buy you a seat next to me and First Gentleman Bill at one of our state dinners.”

close call/clown: He just HATES that seltzer in his pants!

Dallas/dampen: Now, if you “big-D” types could just funnel some of that moisture to central “Aridzona” …

delegate/delivery: “Hello, Hillary … Bernie here. My delegates ain’t at all hep at hoppin’ on your bandwagon and may end up boltin’ to the Libertarians!”

dido/different: See above opening paragraph.

dingbat/dip: Archie Bunker’s favorite salad dressing, in tribute to Edith.

docent/doeth: Sounds like a downright decent docent who gets the job done.

Dramamine/dream: That was no dream, but a NIGHTMARE, and it gave me a bad case of motion sickness. Help!

evidence/exact: Fact-checking should be paramount and enlightening when it comes to both presidential candidates. And Donald, it would tickle me pink if you would reveal the content of your federal tax return, but I’ll be pleasantly surprised if you ever release it for public consumption.

gas main/gather: Just be sure that there’s no smoking among the gatherers.

go/Godspeed: May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white.

hither and thither/hocus-pocus: It’s really hard to “get a handle” on this one.

Hoosier/horizon: James Whitcomb Riley may already have waxed poetic on this subject before dying exactly 100 years ago.

horizontal/horse: The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be.

inauguration/incident: Had William Henry Harrison – on the cold, wet day of March 4, 1841 – not delivered an 8,445-word address outdoors that took him almost two hours to read after his being sworn in as president, he no doubt would not have died of complications from pneumonia on his 32nd day in office.

jitter/Johnny-on-the-spot: No need to be nervous, Johnny; you can master the job with flying colors.

Johnny Reb/jolly: He’s happy in his fanciful thinking that the South shall rise again!

keynote address/kickback: The price should be negotiable at both conventions.

misadventure/miserable: So THAT’S what you’re thinking, dear readers, regarding all of the above ramblings. Just brace yourselves for next Tuesday’s “N through Z” follow-up. A spoonful of sugar might help the medicine go down when the time comes!

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