Dictionary Update 1

I have been swept up in plans to move at the end of this month to that great city, Chicago, so I have barely gotten through the ac’s of the Dictionary in my yearlong effort to read this 1550-page tome (not counting the essays at the beginning, which are in roman numerals, but count for 50 additional pages). In the first nine days of my journey, I have made it only to the (pathetic) ninth page. Nevertheless, here are some highlights:


I’ve learned an excellent way to call someone fat without them knowing: refer to them as “abdominous.” Now doesn’t that sound like it just might be a compliment? “Afternoon, Carlson. You’re looking supremely abdominous today.” Nope. It means potbellied. (Italicized side-note: why is WordPress underlining “abdominous” like it’s not a word? It’s in the dictionary, people! Come to think of it, why is WordPress underlining its own name? What kind of a company is this??)


I was surprised to learn that this word has Latin roots, and was not, in fact, made up like I thought.

In reading the essays, I learned something I can’t believe I never thought about: how old the English language is. I don’t know why, but I always thought it was relatively modern. Nope. Turns out English dates back to 8 A.D. 8 A.D. Jesus Christ, that is old. Here is a joke in Ye Olde English: “Sum mon him pantode wingeard and betynde hine ond dealf anne seath and getimbrode…” I’m just kidding, that’s not a joke (it’s Mark 12:1). Apparently, they had a very rich vocabulary. Yes, so do I. I regularly pepper my conversations with “betynde” and “getimbrode.”


Number 1 on my List of Names That Shan’t Be Considered When/If I Have a Kid, or LONTSBCWIHAK (pronounced lonts-back-wee-hack). Abednego’s brothers got off scantly better with Meshach and Shadrach.


Okay, people, if you’re at home thinking, “Morgan is a lazy bum, she certainly should be past page nine,” let me present you with the definition for “abfarad”:

A centimeter-gram-second electromagnetic unit of capacitance, equal to the capacitance of a capacitor having a charge of one abcoulomb and a potential difference of one abvolt. It is equal to one billion (10⁹) farads.

Okay, yeah, got it.


Now, that just sounds like a sound effect. Like the sound you get when you squish a particularly large fly, or a mosquito that has been having too much You cocktail. It actually is slang for “to move off hastily; depart quickly and secretively to avoid apprehension.” Not a sound effect, but still a nice word.


Published by Morgan Bailey Keaton

Dave Barry won a Pulitzer the year I was born. Needless to say, I am hilarious.

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