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10:27 PM Tue, Jan. 22nd

Column: A semi-silly pursuit of words in the dictionary

It’s a semi-silly something that I’ve pursued in the past that involves tacking on trite reactions to some of the headers that grace the top of every dictionary depicting the first and last words to be found on each page. The headers are a big help, of course, when it comes to looking up words in most cases, but you’re on your own in unchartered territory when you’re trying to call up words such as pneumonia and phlegm and mistakenly consult the “n” and “f” listings, respectively.

The thing that prompted my return to indulging in an exercise in inanities is that I had to retire my trusty old Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary a while back for a later model of the same name. This was necessitated by my having accidentally dropped it on the floor a couple of times over the years, which played a bit of havoc with its binding and spilled words all over the place. (Only kidding about that spill reference, which I was just using for dramatic effect.) Duct tape made for an unseemly — or, alternatively, unseemly — countenance, so hence the switcheroo. But enough of the patter and on to the subject matter, to wit:

absolute/absurdism: What you, dear reader, may consider this exercise to entail.

billionaire/binocs: That tax cut bill is a dandy, particularly as viewed by the well-to-do.

break/breastbone: Grit your teeth, gridders … it could happen to you.

bright/britches: Fancy pants.

brogue/Brooklynese: Probably beats a Texas twang.

busy/butt in: Wait your turn, chatterbox!

dairying/damsel: A milkmaid.

earwax/eat: Thanks, but no thanks.

fare-thee-well/fascinatingly: Rhett Butler’s pungent put-down of Scarlett O’Hara.

gangrene/gargle: Try not to think about it.

golden oldie/good: Well, Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” exemplifies it.

hopscotch/horridness: Hey, you don’t HAVE to like it, but don’t ruin it for the other kids.

humorous/hurricane: Not for those who have lived through one of the things.

knock-knee/knuckleballer: One-of-a-kind is my guess.

machismo/mad: You wanna piece o’ me?

monastic/monkey: A loner in the animal kingdom.

neo-Freudian/nerd: Sounds like sort of a stuffy character to me.

oink/old style: E-i-e-i-o!

palsied/Pandora’s box: Achey-breakey & shaky.

pinafore/pink: Perfectly proper.

pizzazz/plain: Oxymoronically-oriented.

Robinson Crusoe/rocking chair: Tom Hanks would be good at portraying the aging ship-wrecked sailor.

royalty/rub out: The king ain’t THAT bad, is he? Just depose him and be done with it.

strut/stuff: Picture Tina Fey performing her Sarah Palin shtick.

suspicious/swallower: I always wondered about that guy at the carnival who ingests swords.

upchuck/upset: Without a doubt it’s upsetting.

zigzag/zombie: Yeah, I spotted one of them weaving his way down South Mount Vernon last Halloween.

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