Thursday, 24 January 2013

The fun they had

Let me transport you - as your environment dissolves into a combination of theremin music and dubious spiral-based special effects - back to a simpler time, some years ago.  The scene - a modestly attractive market town, nestling snugly against the unassuming verdancy of the Hertfordshire countryside.  It would be paltering with the truth to say that this place is dissimilar in most respects to Hitchin.

These were strange, primitive times, that modern Dark Age before everybody was allowed on the internet.  Your humble blogger was lodging with a close friend and, when the long winter darknesses rendered our mutual passion for cycling impractical, and being not yet able to Tweet, Facebook or virtually surf in any way, we evolved The Dictionary Game.  Just as the simplicity of the rules in chess belie the bewildering complexity of possibilities and permutations in that game, so the operating procedure for TDG only hints at the riches and excitement to which it leads.  Pick a number. Well done - you've played this before, haven't you. Since you're on a roll, pick another, and instruct your playmate to look up page x and word y in a dictionary, where x and y are those very numbers just picked.  Some preliminary parameter establishment is of course necessary, to ensure that x is not greater than z, where the latter represents the number of pages in the lexicon being used.  A further, exciting refinement becomes necessary if the mighty Shorter Oxford Dictionary (or similar) is being employed, its brace of volumes requiring a further choice between the numbers 1 and 2.

Now ask the dictionary holder to read the word specified, marvel at its exotic and surprising nature, stroke your chin in quiet thought as you explore its etymology and identify words from the same root, and strive to introduce it into popular parlance.  If the word is 'cat' (or similar) simply start again.

By far the finest word we discovered thus is poodle-faker:


  1. (slang) A man who seeks out female society, especially for social or professional advancement.
  2. (slang) A recently commissioned officer. **

which I have largely failed to make common parlance, despite employing it at every opportunity, and even sometimes accurately.

We also looked at maps.

**Thanks to Wiktionary

1 comment:

  1. We did indeed look at maps as well.
    From the golden panjandrum.