Why do this?

I’m a word-enthusiast. And I don’t mean that I collect polysyllabic or academic words with a word-of-the-day calendar. I mean I get a kick out of words and how they are used.

Warning: some of the words you find here may not be suitable or agreeable to everyone. Read with caution or with an open mind or don’t read at all.

analrapist

Tobias: Okay, Lindsay, are you forgetting that I was a professional twice over— an analyst and a therapist. The world’s first analrapist.

Lindsay: Yes, and you were almost arrested for those business cards.

Tobias Fünke

Forget-Me-Know

Filed under portmanteau

anapest

So the choice is between "Where is it?" and "Where's it at?", and the latter, a strong anapest, is prettier and trips off the tongue better than "Where is it?", whose meter is either a clunky monosyllabic-foot + trochee or it's nothing at all.

David Foster Wallace

Authority and American Usage

Filed under literary

art

It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around.

Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Filed under wise

artist

The only thing that makes one an artist is making art. And that requires the precise opposite of hanging out; a deeply lonely and unglamorous task of tolerating oneself long enough to push something out.

David Rakoff

Half Empty

Filed under art wise

athwart

...centrally located athwart both one-way main drags...

David Foster Wallace

The View From Mrs. Thompson's

Filed under just a damned good word

badger

T.S. Garp had a tenacious memory and the indignation of a badger.

John Irving

The World According to Garp

Filed under funny

badger

Only one way to describe how I felt—as rough as a badger's arse. Worst hangover had had for a long time.

Marian Keyes

This Charming Man

Filed under funny little bit rude

bastard

Dr. Perry Cox: Thanks to your little gesture, she actually believes that the earth is full of people who, deep down, are filled with kindness and caring.

Dr. Kelso: Well that's absurd. People are bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling.

Dr. Perry Cox: Exactly.

Dr. Kelso

My Common Enemy

Filed under little bit rude

bidet

J.D.: [to the Janitor after he asks him if he's been stealing pudding and toilet paper] I hate pudding, and I don't use toilet paper... [pauses] I have one of those French things that shoots water up your butt.

Janitor: Bidet?

J.D.: Bidet to you, sir.

J. D.

My Fruit Cups

Filed under little bit rude funny

bitch

Winter here is a pitiless bitch, but in the warm months Bloomington is a lot like a seaside community except here the ocean is corn, which grows steroidically and stretches to the earth’s curve in all directions.

David Foster Wallace

The View From Mrs. Thompson's

Filed under little bit rude literary

bitter

Thanks for the coffee. Just the way I like it: black and bitter.

Colonel John Casey

Chuck Versus the Mask

Filed under double entendre funny

booby

Of course I'll marry you, you old booby.

Mrs. Hughes

Episode Nine

Filed under funny

book

A book is a flexible mirror of the mind and the body. Its overall size and proportions, the color and texture of the paper, the sound it makes as the pages turn, and the smell of the paper, adhesive and ink, all blend with the size and form and placement of the type to reveal a little about the world in which it was made. If the book appears to be only a paper machine, produced at their own convenience by other machines, only machines will want to read it.

Robert Bringhurst

The Elements of Typographic Style

Filed under design literary wise

bread

Bread is the paper of the food industry. You write your sandwich on it.

Dwight Schrute

Search Committee

Filed under funny

brillig

'Let's hear it,' said Humpty Dumpty. 'I can explain all the poems that were ever invented—and a good many that haven't been invented just yet.'

This sounded very hopeful, so Alice repeated the first verse:
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'That's enough to begin with,' Humpty Dumpty interrupted: 'there are plenty of hard words there. "BRILLIG" means four o'clock in the afternoon—the time when you begin BROILING things for dinner.'

Lewis Carroll

Through the Looking-Glass

Filed under literary nonsensical

catch

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

Joseph Heller

Catch-22

Filed under literary

cheese

Cheese crumbs spread in front of a copulating pair of rats may distract the female, but not the male.

Alfred Kinsey

Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (by way of Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach)

Filed under little bit rude

constructive

Rosencrantz: Shouldn't we be doing something—constructive?

Guildenstern: What did you have in mind? . . . A short, blunt human pyramid?

Tom Stoppard

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead

Filed under funny double entendre

cooking

"If you are careful," Garp wrote, "if you use good ingredients, and you don't take any shortcuts, then you can usually cook something very good. Sometimes it is the only worthwhile product you can salvage from a day: what you make to eat. With writing, I find, you can have all the right ingredients, give plenty of time and care, and still get nothing. Also true of love. Cooking, therefore, can keep a person who tries hard sane."

John Irving

The World According to Garp

Filed under wise

crotch

Well isn't that just kick you in the crotch spit on your neck fantastic.

Rachel

Friends

Filed under little bit rude

cunning

In the face of brutality I was prudent. Before injustice I held my peace. I sacrificed the things in hand for the good of the hypothetical whole. I believed in the tongue instead of the fist. As an arbor against oppression I taught patience and faith in the human soul. I know now how wrong I was. I have been a traitor to myself and to my people. All that is rot. Now is the time to act and to act quickly. Fight cunning with cunning and might with might.

Carson McCullers

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Filed under inspirational literary

cuntiness

[On September 12, 2001]

I turned to the woman behind me and asked if I could pay her a dollar to use her cell phone.

She thought about it for a second. "Hmmmm ... No. I don't want to use up my minutes."

Not her batteries, that she would need in good working order to call for help, god forbid, were she trapped underneath some fallen rubble, but her minutes. A purchasable commodity that I was in fact offering to purchase. Oddly enough, I found this display of cuntiness not twenty-four hours after tragedy bracingly restorative. We were still intact after all.

David Rakoff

Don't Get Too Comfortable

Filed under nsfw

defeatist

Dowager Countess: Your turn will come.

Lady Edith: Will it? Or am I to be the maiden aunt? Isn't this what they do? Arrange presents for their prettier relations?

Dowager Countess: Don't be defeatist dear, it's terribly middle class.

Dowager Countess

Episode Eight

Filed under funny

dike

Alcoholics build defenses like the Dutch build dikes.

Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Filed under wise

dogmatic

...it is indisputably easier to be Dogmatic than Democratic, especially about issues that are both vexed and highly charged.

David Foster Wallace

Authority and American Usage

Filed under literary wise

dogs

When we release the dogs of war, we must go where they take us.

Dowager Countess

Episode 5

Filed under wise

epigram

If, with the literate, I am

Impelled to try an epigram,

I never seek to take the credit;

We all assume that Oscar said it.

Dorothy Parker

The Penguin Dictionary of Epigrams

Filed under epigram literary

eternity

Rosencrantz: I wouldn't think about it, if I were you. You'd only get depressed. (Pause.) Eternity is a terrible thought. I mean, where's it going to end?

Tom Stoppard

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead

Filed under epigram

funny

Not being funny doesn’t make you a bad person. Not having a sense of humor does.

David Rakoff

Fraud: Essays

Filed under epigram funny wise

future

I have ideas. Online, it could be more. It could be more than just inside bullshit for anointed coder shitheads. It could be universal. You could live your life there. It would change everything, I promise you. The world we live in now is going to look like the Stone Age. All these people with their things. The physical world is dead. A pathway is being built. A way out, into a world of pure information. A shared consciousness. The future is bearing down on us like a freight train and nobody sees it.

Joe MacMillan

Episode 8, Limbo

Filed under wise

gives

When I'm sad she comes to me
With a thousand smiles
She gives to me free

Jimi Hendrix

Little Wing

Filed under wise

happy

Because I'm happy

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof

Because I'm happy

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth

Because I'm happy

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you

Pharrell Williams

Happy

Filed under feel good

heart

Was Mister Singer awake in his room upstairs? Did the ceiling creak because he was walking quietly up and down, drinking a cold orange crush and studying the chess men laid out on the table? Had ever he felt a terrible afraidness like this one? No. He had never done anything wrong. He had never done wrong and his heart was quiet in the night-time.

Carson McCullers

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Filed under literary sad

impossible

"I can't believe THAT!" said Alice.

"Can't you?" the Queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes."

Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said: "one CAN'T believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Lewis Carroll

Through the Looking-Glass

Filed under nonsensical

kettle

Alan: shall I offer to make these fellas a cup of tea?
Caroline: Well, maybe when we've found the kettle, maybe then.
Alan: We've got ours! It's always the last to pack, first thing to unpack. First rule of flitting, knowing where the kettle is.

Alan

Season 4, Christmas special

Filed under wise

marry

If you'd like your life to be good, marry well.

Steve Krug

Don't Make Me Think, Revisited

Filed under epigram wise

meek

MAN #2: You hear that? Blessed are the Greek.

GREGORY: The Greek?

MAN #2: Mmm. Well, apparently, he's going to inherit the earth.

GREGORY: Did anyone catch his name?

MRS. BIG NOSE: Oh, it's the meek! Blessed are the meek! Oh, that's nice, isn't it? I'm glad they're getting something, 'cause they have a hell of a time.

Mrs. Big Nose

Monty Python's The Life of Brian

Filed under funny

middles

Deangelo Vickers (raises glass): To beginnings and endings.

Michael Scott (also raises glass): And to middles. The unsung heroes.

Michael Scott

Training Day

Filed under funny wise

mouse

I was seated at a long table of computers beside three other Japanese men. Using my very first mouse, I moved it to the edge of its pad. The cursor shifted about three inches to the right across the screen and no farther ... Rising from my chair, I continue to move the mouse down the table. On the screen, the cursor crawled another three inches to the right. Now at the elbow of the man beside me, I wordlessly showed him my screen, my stalled cursor, and pointed beyond his shoulder farther down the table, indicating my manifest destiny every rightward.

Gently he picked up my mouse and showed me how to move it along and pick it up incrementally. "You must uplift the mouse," he said. Uplift the Mouse! This mouse, I decided, would never master it.

David Rakoff

Fraud: Essays

Filed under double entendre

murse

Elliot: I'm dating a murse!

J.D.: Well it's better than dating a mecretary or a manicurist... oh wait, that works.

Elliot

His Story

Filed under portmanteau funny

past

What remains of your past if you didn't allow yourself to feel it when it happened? If you don't have your experiences in the moment, if you gloss them over with jokes or zoom past them, you end up with curiously dispassionate memories.

David Rakoff

Fraud: Essays

Filed under literary sad wise

pickle

Well, once you're a pickle you can't go back to being a cucumber.

April

Hand of God

Filed under wise

popularity

Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige.

Mike Shiner

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Filed under epigram wise

protégé

George: I still don't understand this. Abby has a mentor?

Jerry: Yes. And the mentor advises the protégé.

George: Is there any money involved?

Jerry: No.

George: So what's in it for the mentor?

Jerry: Respect, admiration, prestige.

George: Pssh. Would the protégé pick up stuff for the mentor?

Jerry: I suppose if it was on the protégé's way to the mentor, they might.

George: Laundry? Dry cleaning?

Jerry: It's not a valet, it's a protégé.

Jerry Seinfeld

The Fatigues

Filed under funny

reality

Remember, a harsh reality is better than a false hope.

Doctor Clarkson

Episode Six

Filed under epigram wise

reed

I know you're physically strong, but what I need to know is are you mentally strong? Strong enough to bend like the reed, and not snap like the Kit-Kat.

Manager Mike Turner

Chuck Versus the Mask

Filed under funny

rhetoric

Player: We're more of the love, blood, and rhetoric school. ... well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive. But we can't give you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory. They're all blood, you see.

Tom Stoppard

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead

Filed under literary

rough

[Gillian sits in restaurant, drinking wine. Caroline joins her.]

Caroline: What are we drinking?

Gillian: Oh, the usual shite. [pauses] I'm thinking of becoming a lesbian.

Caroline: [Drinks from wineglass, grimaces]. Oh, Christ, that's rough.

Caroline Mackenzie Dawson

Season 4, Christmas special

Filed under funny

salmon

Why do you always speak as if I was a salmon that laid her eggs in the gravel and then swam away?

Dowager Countess

Episode Nine

Filed under funny

sarcasm

Toby: Mrs. Landingham, does the President have free time this morning?

Mrs. Landingham: The President has nothing but free time, Toby. Right now he's in the residence eating Cheerios and enjoying Regis and Kathie Lee. Should I get him for you?

Toby: Sarcasm's a disturbing thing coming from a woman of your age, Mrs. Landingham.

Mrs. Landingham: What age would that be, Toby?
Toby: ...Late twenties?

Mrs. Landingham: Atta boy.

Toby Ziegler

Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc

Filed under funny

slob

If you haven't marked up your manuscript a lot, you did a lazy job. Only God gets things right the first time. Don't be a slob.

Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Filed under wise

snotty

[on well-known writers who have written under five books]

...I always wonder two things about these folks: how long did it take them to write the books they did write, and what did they do the rest of their time? Knit afghans? Organize church bazaars? Deify plums? I'm probably being snotty here, but I am also, believe me, honestly curious. If God gives you something you can do, why in God's name wouldn't you do it?

Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Filed under wise

socialist

Tom Branson: I may be a socialist, but I'm not a lunatic.

Lady Mary: I'm not sure Papa knows the difference.

Tom Branson

Episode Six

Filed under funny

solipsist

When a solipsist dies, after all, everything goes with him.

David Foster Wallace

Certainly the End of Something or Other, One Would Sort of Have to Think

Filed under epigram wise

strangers

The presence of strangers is our only guarantee of good behaviour.

Dowager Countess

Episode Nine

Filed under epigram wise

sumptuary

Let us dream of or even in our spare time work toward an America where nobody lays any arbitrary sumptuary prescriptions on anyone else and we can all go around as comfortable and aerated and unchafed and motile as we want.

David Foster Wallace

Authority and American Usage

Filed under wise literary

suspense

The suspense is terrible. [pauses] I hope it will last.

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Filed under funny

television

A few windows are open, a few refrigerators are humming. There is the faint, trapped warble from some televisions tuned into the late show and the blue gray glow from the picture tubes throbs from a few of the houses. To Garp this glow looks like cancer, Insidious and numbing, putting the world to sleep. Maybe television causes cancer, Garp thinks; but his real irritation is a writer's irritation: he knows that wherever the TV glows, there sits someone who isn't reading.

John Irving

The World According to Garp

Filed under wise

thesaurus

Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word.

Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Filed under wise

thinking

All this endless thinking. It's very overrated. I blame the war. Before 1914 nobody thought of anything at all.

Dowager Countess

Episode Six

Filed under wise

thread

Sherlock: There's a loose thread in the world.

Watson: That doesn't mean you have to pull it.

Sherlock: What type of life would that be?

Sherlock

The Six Thatchers

Filed under funny

trick

Michael Bluth: So... this is the magic trick, huh?

Gob Bluth: Illusion, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money.

[Notices children listening] Or candy.

Gob Bluth

Pilot

Filed under funny little bit rude

typography

Typography, like other arts, preys on its own past. It can do so with the callousness of a grave robber, or with the piety of unquestioning ancestor worship. It can also do so in thoughtful, enlightened and deeply creative ways.

Robert Bringhurst

The Elements of Typographic Style

Filed under wise design

vorpal

One! two! and through and through

The vorpal blade went snickersnack!

He left it dead, and with its head

He went galumphing back.

Lewis Carroll

Through the Looking-Glass

Filed under literary nonsensical

word

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

Lewis Carroll

Through the Looking-Glass

Filed under literary wise

words

Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?

Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Grey

Filed under literary

words

Guildenstern: Words, words. They're all we have to go on.

Tom Stoppard

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead

Filed under epigram literary

writing

Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.

Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Filed under wise