18 October 2009

How to Rectify Your Limpid Dinguses or Words that Sound Dirty But Aren't

by Carrie Bailey

I like to write about seamen:
"Capt. One Peg ordered the sailor to 'Finish masticating that kumquat then fashion a sextant out of those there faggots.'"

Kumquats photo by supercookie33
I can use these words because I know their meaning. Put another way Capt. One Peg said, “Finish chewing that fruit and make a navigational device from those bundles of sticks.” But, that’s not what you were thinking and it’s not what I was thinking either. I’m not even sure what I was thinking. I guess I was just glad the Captain give the instructions wasn’t a Rear Admiral shouting from the poop deck.
"The crochety old man with the broken coccyx from Bangkok was observing your Uranus."
This one is also entirely innocent! It means that, more or less, “The peevish old guy from a city in Thailand who broke his tailbone was gazing at the seventh planet from the sun.” An astronomer with an unfortunate injury shouldn’t be offensive. Certain words can raise an eyebrow and clear room if used thoughtlessly among people in the early stages of their vocabulary development regardless and we should try to be careful...
"The deaf handyman gesticulated that he was busy cleaning a ramrod, ballcock, and nipple when a titmouse startled him, and he pricked a digit."

Getting worse? If you think so, it’s probably best to stop reading, but if you knew that it meant, “The deaf handyman used his hands to sign that he was cleaning a rod used to clear the barrel of a shot gun, a device for regulating the water level of a tank, and a small projection from a machine that drips oil, when a bird startled him and he cut his finger,” well continue…

Maybe you won’t be offended by,
"Balzac and Handcock jaculated the dart over the blowhole."
Because what’s the big deal? I mean, who cares if two men from history threw a dart over a geizer? Don’t we all have more important things to do than consider juvenile word associations?
"It’s fallacious that the beaver are organisms especially prone to deep vein thrombosis."
Honestly, it probably isn’t true that the furry animals with flat tails suffer from the most common cause of strokes. Thankfully, with maturity and experience we don’t grow beyond finding humor in this sort of misuse of vocabulary. In fact, would any educated grown-up bat an eye if at a friend’s house, our host said,
"Oh, please pardon my dictum, but my cockeyed pussy is the titular Regina of this bungalow."
Seriously? To think about it differently than it is wastes time. Anyone can excuse a declaration that a squinty-eyed cat is figuratively queen of the home. People talk about their cats all the time.

But, if you're still concerned about the rectification of limpid dinguses and what to do,  just use the dictionary, because you can't circumscribe a comeuppance for a weak vocabulary.  


  1. Hahaha, I love this piece! The dictionary and thesaurus are my best friends.

  2. I felt pretty dirty writing it. There were a few words I looked up two or three times just to make sure... :)

  3. Too funny! I love this post. Going to stumble this. :)

  4. I'm going to send this to everyone I know. I've read it twice already. Love it. Glad to see you step outside your box...

  5. Thanks Rose! I'd love to see this one circulate, because it's about vocabulary building. I have received a small amount of negative feedback. A woman on twitter told me she never needed to use the words "kumquat" and "sextant." Personally, I don't know what else to call them.

    And Bawdy One, you're right I did go outside my box, but I would like to point out that there was absolutely nothing unclean in this article.

    Not a word or phrase. :)

  6. Oh, this is too great. :) Thanks for sharing it via Twitter--I'm going to RT it!

  7. Ok, you asked for it (my opinion on this piece, that is) so here you go: This was too freaking funny! Every time you said an educated person wouldn't bat an eye at some phrase, I giggled, then spluttered, then literally laughed out loud!

    Now, I didn't need to use the thesaurus or dictionary in order to know what you were talking about before I read the rewritten sentences- as I knew what you were saying with the more formal and antiquated sentence structure- but it was still freaking funny. Perhaps it was appealing to the juvenile in me, or perhaps I just haven't laughed enough lately, but they still had me chortling.

    Oh, and to the lady who's never had to use the terms "Kumquat" and "sextant", all I can say is she doesn't watch Chopped on Food network often enough, and she hasn't read enough historical romances that feature pirates or explorers.

    Loved it!

  8. @Liberty Thanks!

    Lyssa, hehehehe. Hahahahaha. I know. I mean what's wrong with going into the market and saying, "I'd like a kumquat please." She probably needs to eat more fresh fruit anyway.

    I lose interest in my own projects when I take myself too seriously.

  9. Ha ha ha! These are great! Thank you, for brightening my day!

  10. Oh lord....rolling on my floor laughing... Thank you. Had a somber morning. This makes up for it.


  11. Those were hilarious. I'll carry this smile into the weekend...

  12. LAUGHING, LAUGHING, LAUGHING! Though I do remember that Karen from Mentor was talking to her maintenance man today about her broken ballcock.

    And I love kumquats - they're tasty, not funny. :)

  13. Some ruined it for me... actually a few people... and told me that the word kumquat came from Cantonese and meant "Golden Orange."


    My humor must just be too high brow...

  14. A good, morning giggle. Love it.

  15. Lissy Nathan1/14/2013 5:56 PM

    Even Jane Austen wasn't above it, 200 years ago. Talking about Admirals in the navy (and we all know the common fate of cabin boys on long voyages back then)she had one of her more worldly characters (Mary in Mansfield Park) say: "speaking of Rears and Vices" and then hammer the point home, she added: "now do not suspect me of a pun!" - in reference to the ranks of Rear Admiral and Vice Admiral, and her dislike of her uncle who was an Admiral.

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