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Of mafflards and moonlings

My review of the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary has been printed (in “edited” form, with some spatchcocked syntax and deranged lunulae) in today’s Guardian. It begins:

How would a person in the early 1600s call someone an idiot?

On that note, is taking the rest of the decade off. Happy calendargeddon, readers!

  1. 1  UnfitImproper  December 19, 2009, 11:29 am 

    “Madam, may I introduce Mr Bryant and Mr May, the finest spunk fencers in the queen’s glorious empire.”

  2. 2  sw  December 19, 2009, 7:47 pm 

    Seriously, thanks: the expression “spunk-fencer” has become the single most important thing I’ve learned in 2009 and possibly in the oughties/nads. I plan on using it daily henceforth.

  3. 3  Roger Migently  December 20, 2009, 5:59 am 

    “Bridelock” initially conjured unhappy images for me – a prison cell to which the bride holds the only key; a chastity belt – until I looked it up and learned that the “lock” part is from OE “lac” which meant “actions or proceedings, practice” [thanks, eymonline].

    Actions, even practice, concerning the bride evoke much happier imaginings.

    Happy Saturnalia, Steven and thanks for another year of Provocative Therapy.

  4. 4  democracy_grenade  December 23, 2009, 7:36 pm 

    I believe that an early draft of Harold Pinter’s play A Slight Ache was entitled The Spunk-Fencer

  5. 5  Hey Zeus  December 24, 2009, 12:49 pm 

    am i going mad or does the decade end in a year?

  6. 6  NomadUK  December 24, 2009, 11:41 pm 

    I suppose it depends on which specific decade you mean, but, yes, if one assumes that ‘the decade’ means the first decade of the 21st century, it ends at midnight, a year from this coming 31 December.

    Which would mean that Mr Poole’s going to be on holiday for a long time. But, strangely enough, I don’t think that’s what he had in mind.

    And, if we’re lucky, everyone will just pretend that Hey Zeus didn’t ask the question, and I didn’t just answer it, and we’ll all just merrily go on through 2010 until the question becomes moot for another 9 years.

  7. 7  Roger Migently  December 25, 2009, 1:06 am 

    Um, I think Provocative Mr Poole was having us on, hoping we would have this argument and that’s why he wished us a happy “calendargeddon”. Something to be going on with, you know? Like a teacher who leaves the room for a few minutes?

  8. 8  NomadUK  December 26, 2009, 6:41 pm 

    Argument? What argument? Now, see, if you keep talking about it, we’re going to wind up having an argument, and then where will we be?

  9. 9  Dan A  December 26, 2009, 8:52 pm 

    Pretty sure the new decade starts in six days. Surely 1990 was in the 90’s, 2000 in the the 2000’s etc?

  10. 10  NomadUK  December 26, 2009, 11:06 pm 

    Now you’ve done it.

  11. 11  Tode  December 27, 2009, 11:40 pm 

    It’s totally idiotic to have a reference work of this type printed on paper, and only able to be searched in a few laborious ways. This is the sort of thing the personal computer was invented for. All they need is a way to prevent people copying it … can’t be too difficult surely?

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