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Sep 9, 2018
This week’s theme
Words coined by rhyming slang

This week’s words

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Relative usage over time

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Words coined after stock characters

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AWADmail Issue 845

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor’s Message: “I never liked Picasso, as a painter or a man, mostly because, as you’ve no doubt already surmised, I was a shallow twerp with hopelessly shallow catholic tastes -- an arrogant, indomitable ignoramus -- and because he never wallowed in anything except brilliance and carnality. Don’t worry, there is a character arc to this story, and it will turn out to be a comedy, not a tragedy for those of you bored to tears, or with more important things to do. Which I hope is most. Now is a good time to bail.” For those of you still reading, congrats to Email of the Week winner Dave Horsfall (see below) and all the other word and art lovers out there -- you never know when (or where) you might achieve a sense of enlightenment and wisdom. Find out how I kinda did in “Picasso and Me” >

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Call Them What They Wants
The Atlantic

There Is A Crisis In British Swearing

From: Gwenda Caplan (dcaplan global.co.za)
Subject: Cockney slang

Love this Cockney slang! I worked in the East End of London in the late 60s and the men in the warehouse used it to the extent that it was like a different language! Completely incomprehensible.

Gwenda Caplan, Sandton, South Africa

From: Paul Foerster (foerster idworld.net)
Subject; Eletelephony

Your intro reminds me of the poem Eletelephony I learned as a schoolboy in Cincinnati 75 years ago. It starts out “Once there was an elephant, Who tried to use the telephan. No, no, I mean an elephone, Who tried to use the telephone. ...” The writer gets more and more mixed up trying to find rhymes, then finally gives up.

Paul A. Foerster, San Antonio, Texas

From: Martin Frampton (collepardo btinternet.com)
Subject: Cockney rhyming slang

To hold the label “Cockney” one had to be born within the sound of Bow Bells, the church at Bow, London, and know about Pearly Kings and Queens. Raspberry tart was one of disapproval, but raspberries were often in short supply so rhubarb was used. Rhubarb on its own indicates total disparagement of a view or statement. A ball of chalk was a walk.

M Don Frampton, Newton Abbot, UK

From: Jill Sidders (jill.sidders gmail.com)
Subject: Rhyming slang

When I visited Norwegian friends living just outside Oslo, they were intrigued by the various English accents (“Do a Cockney accent, Jill! Do a Newcastle accent!”) and once I’d explained the concept of rhyming slang, they absolutely loved it and adopted it into their everyday conversations. “Helge, there’s someone on the dog for you.”

Jill Sidders, Sittingbourne, UK

From: Jonas Vasey (jonas.vasey accenture.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--raspberry

I lived in the East End a few years so really looking forward to this week’s theme. When I saw “Raspberry” as today’s word I thought it might refer to raspberry ripple/cripple, also Cockney rhyming slang (raspberry ripple being a type of ice cream popular in the UK).

Jonas Vasey, Basel, Switzerland

From: Julie Tierney Dixon (juliedixon253 gmail.com)
Subject: Up the apples

I come from Northern England. My parents always said “up the apples” to us when it was our bedtime, and often told us “use your loaf” (loaf of bread = head). I once heard a Londoner friend say, “Got a bit of a conan on the back of me gregory.” He had a Conan Doyle (boil) on his Gregory Peck (neck).

Julie Tierney Dixon, Rome, Italy

From: Marcus Weeks (marcusweeks mac.com)
Subject: aris

One of the most obscure words in Cockney slang is “aris”, meaning backside. It’s in a rare (unique?) form of double rhyming slang. Aris is short for Aristotle, rhyming with bottle, and bottle is short for bottle and glass, rhyming with arse. Usage: “He slipped and fell right on his aris.”

Marcus Weeks, Hastings, UK

From: Nicholas Shillidy D Skinner (nsds usal.es)
Subject: hickory ⇨ clock

How about my father’s asking the taxi driver “What’s on the ‘ickory, pal?” (from hickory dickory dock ⇨ clock)?

Nicholas Shillidy D Skinner, Salamanca, Spain

From: Grandy Andy (via website comments)
Subject: rhyming slang

Another form of rhyming slang is a “Hen-ery” (Henry) or a “Louis” (as in the ex-king of France). These mean an eighth / sixteenth of an ounce, a measure of weight now unused in commercial transactions except those of a mildly illicit nature (or so I’m told!)

Grandy Andy, UK

From: David Jennys (drjennys live.com)
Subject: Ocean’s Eleven

This Cockney Rhyme gives a name to the strange scene in the movie Ocean’s Eleven in which Don Cheadle played a character with a thick British accent. In the scene, he was upset because he had discovered a major obstacle to the team’s plan. But he only got blank faces when he told them, “We are completely Barney!” So he had to explain, “You know, Barney Rubble. Trouble!”

David Jennys, Mitchell, South Dakota

From: Lupi McGinty (volsungaloop gmail.com)
Subject: The US should adopt rhyming slang

I wonder if the current POTUS will inspire people in the US to use rhyming slang, for example, “I had too much coffee this morning, and now I need to go take a Donald.”

Lupi McGinty, Minneapolis, Minnesota

From: Ramaswami S (ramaswami.s gmail.com)
Subject: raspberry

In the Disney animated film The Fox and the Hound, Big Mama (owl) admonishes Todd (fox) for his rudeness to Vixie. To which Todd responds, “Oh, raspberries! I’ve had it!” I guess there was a limit to rudeness for the fox, at least when addressing an elder.

Ramaswami S, Thanjavur, India

From: Murray Frank (mwfrank17 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--raspberry

A raspberry is also that red mark on your mate’s shoulder created when making love.

Murray Frank, West Tisbury, Massachusetts

From: Terry Victor (tv terryvictor.co.uk)
Subject: titfer

A Dictionary of English Rhyming Slangs by Antonio Lillo and Terry Victor (that’s me) was published by De Gruyter last year -- all 1358 pages of it! -- so I was delighted to see your taking a butchers at the Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang. May I tip my titfer at you and offer an antedating: the earliest documented use of titfer (for hat) that we uncovered is March 1920.

Terry Victor, Caerwent, UK

From: Oliver Schumann (ollon freenet.de)
Subject: oscar

It’s funny, in the German language we slang-use the word Asche for cash money (or money). Asche translates to “ash”. Yet, I doubt that the German usage stems from Oscar and his surname. And rhyming slang was totally new to me!

Oliver Schumann, Hamburg, Germany

From: Denis Toll (denis.toll outlook.com)
Subject: scooby

Sartre - To do is to be
Socrates - To be is to do
Sinatra - Do be do be do

The last one, from Strangers in the Night (2 min.) is, according to Wiki, the inspiration for Scooby-Doo’s name.

Denis Toll, Aberdeen, Scotland

From: Craig Patterson (ecraigpatterson yahoo.com)
Subject: rhyming slang

Originally from Australia (over 30 years ago) with some memories of Aussie versions of rhyming slang, e.g., “Keep the billy lids off the frog and toad” = don’t let the children run on the road.

I worked for American companies in Australia for many years. US execs would regularly visit to review activity. We referred to them (privately of course) an “seppos”. septic tank ⇨ yank.

Craig Patterson, Henderson, Nevada

Email of the Week brought to you by “Picasso and Me” -- Read the latest One Up! blogsplaining here.

From: Dave Horsfall (dave horsfall.org)
Subject: How do you go from Vladimir to Chevvy?

I once worked with someone whose name was Vladimir, yet was nicknamed Chevvy. Why?

Vladimir ⇨ Vlad ⇨ Vlad the Impaler ⇨ Impaler ⇨ Impala ⇨ Chevrolet ⇨ Chevvy

Dave Horsfall, North Gosford, Australia

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: scooby & raspberry

In this scenario, I’m riffing on our USAGE example for the slangy word “scooby” and its etymological roots in the aural affinity between the word “clue” and the name of that lovable pooch, Scooby-Doo. Here, in the clubhouse of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf course, devious Trump has been caught in the act by Scooby, hanging a faux TIME magazine cover featuring his own florid mug. Scooby’s garbled volley of admonishment... “Rake Ruse!”... three times over, translates in human-speak as... “Fake News!” -- essentially giving Trump a dose of his own medicine. Sad.

scooby raspberry
When I read about the origins of the slangy definition of our word raspberry, the annual Golden Raspberry Awards (aka “the Razzies”) came to mind; acknowledging worst actors and films for a particular year. As their early organizers put it, recognizing “the greatest failures in cinematic achievement”. This year’s gala event, held on March 3rd, marked the 38th anniversary of handing out these awards. Here, I’ve envisioned two of the most frequently honored (or more accurately, dishonored) “Worst Actor” Razzie award winners, Adam Sandler and Sylvester Stallone. Sly is presenting Adam with yet another Razzie, who rudely returns the favor with a sloppy raspberry of his own. Over the years, comic actor Sandler has garnered at least three “Worst Actor” Razzies, whilst Sly Stallone tops the all-time winners’ list with four trophies to his credit. In fact, at the year-2000 event, Stallone received a special milestone Razzie award, “Worst Actor of the Century”. Mercy!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

Theme: words coined by rhyming slang:
1. raspberry
2. titfer
3. oscar
4. boracic
5. scooby
1. comic slobbering noise
2. hat or derby
3. cash; crew’s grab
4. poor, dry
5. fact in mystery
1. raspberry
2. titfer
3. oscar
4. boracic
5. scooby
1. boo (airy cry)
2. beret
3. brass
4. poor circs
5. fact
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Limericks

If you find you have cause to be wary
Of the man you’re intending to marry,
When the time comes to choose
What to keep and to lose,
Pawn the ring and give back a raspberry.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

“Raspberry” makes me think of Chaucer’s “The Miller’s Tale”
Where “Nicholas anon leet fle a fart” like a healthy male.
His rival, Absolon,
Felt very “put upon,”
And with a brand, gave Nicholas a very hot tail!
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

Obsessed with her boss’s last raspberry,
She went for pizzazz. ‘Twas so scary!
But risk she did seize,
And stunned the big cheese
With a scandalous corporate Hail Mary.
-Anna C. Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

There was once a young woman named Sherry,
Why, she spent all her time making merry.
So, wherever she went,
The boys followed her scent,
But she blew them all off with a raspberry.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Millions of people adore me
And the ones who don’t matter abhor me,
Said the old chicken hawk
With a raspberry squawk.
I’ll soon have a planet named for me.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

There once was a waitress from Asbury
Who’d blow at bad tippers a raspberry.
It’s also the sound
That she made when she found
She was part of her boyfriend’s menagerie.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

While a girl who likes looking lovely,
Wearing a titfer never suited me.
Not one that towers
Nor one with flowers.
Me in a baseball cap you’ll not see.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

She chose an extravagant titfer
to wear in the portrait she’d sitfer,
but her friends said the hat
made her face look too fat
and her head not the sort it would fitfer.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

“This week yet another new titfer?”
Thought the girl’s fiancé, and he ditched her.
“She’s a hellcat in bed,
But to cover that head
I would have to beg, borrow, and pilfer.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

To a curious tourist, the guide,
well-prepared for such queries, replied,
“Yes, plenty of oscar
went into this mosque, sir.
Just wait till you see the inside!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

“She’s lying! Now go and accost her!”
Said Donald, as red as a lobster.
“There’s not even granules
Of truth from Ms. Daniels,
So hush her with bagfuls of oscar.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I had an extravagant meal,
But panic is what I now feel.
My problem is classic,
For I’m boracic --
My need for some oscar is real.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

This Trump nonsense is making me sick
Definition of realpolitik
He’s taut with much fraught
But boracic he’s not
He’s rich. And a narcissistic ass. Ick!
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

I’d like to travel far and wide:
Europe, Asia, no place could hide;
But facts are facts,
And one detracts:
I’m too boracic; to home I’m tied.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

Boracic’s the one who is proud
of his ignorance, touts it out loud!
He thinks those who are learned
should be ridiculed, spurned,
tarred and feathered, entombed in a shroud!
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

Her vow, the reverse of monastic,
Was “I’ll never again be boracic.”
Though Scarlett had spice,
She was colder than ice
Or a witch’s protrusions thoracic.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

At romance he was but a booby,
His bride knew he was really a newbie.
She explained with care
What he should put where
‘Cause he didn’t have a scooby.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

I know all about bosons and quarks,
in science I’m my school’s bright spark.
But I have no scooby
how a dim-witted booby
bombshell, keeps bettering my marks.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Wakefield, Massachusetts (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Politics verge on the anomalous,
Strange and even ominous,
When the Chief Booby
Hasn’t a Scooby
About the op-ed by Anomynous.
-Steve Kirkpatrick, Olympia, Washington (stevekirkp comcast.net)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Rhyme I slanging these puns at you?

Seeing the labridae I asked the aquarium guide, “Are those raspberry good to eat?”

All guys have ‘em, but what’s a male’s titfer, anyway?

If you want to date a British peer, oscar father for permission.

Due to choppy seas, the sailors arrived in Bora Borasic as dogs.

“Why ask, ‘scooby the next guy I’ll fire?’ Even I don’t know,” said DJT.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth. -Leo Tolstoy, novelist and philosopher (9 Sep 1828-1910)

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