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Mar 13, 2015
This week’s theme
Poetic forms

This week’s words
clerihew
epigram
cento
limerick
doggerel

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

doggerel

PRONUNCIATION:
(DO-guhr-uhl, DOG-uhr-)

MEANING:
noun:
1. Comic verse that is irregular in rhythm and in rhyme especially for burlesque or comic effect.
2. Trivial or bad poetry.

NOTES:
Here’s poet John Skelton (c. 1463-1529) defending his doggerels:
For though my rhyme be ragged,
Tattered and jagged,
Rudely rain-beaten,
Rusty and moth-eaten,
If ye take well therewith,
It hath in it some pith.

ETYMOLOGY:
Dogs have a bad rap in the language (see dog’s chance, dogsbody) and the word doggerel reflects that view. The word is apparently a diminutive of the word dog. Earliest documented use: 1405.

USAGE:
“In the first world war 324,000 Australians volunteered to fight overseas, an extraordinary number in a nation of fewer than 5m people. Of the 60,000 Australians who died in the war, 8,700 were lost in a few months during a hopeless attempt to capture Gallipoli, a small piece of territory in Turkey. In the words of a piece of doggerel at the time, ‘In five minutes flat, we were blown to hell / Nearly blew us right back to Australia.’”
Obituary: Alec Campbell; The Economist (London, UK); Jun 1, 2002.

See more usage examples of doggerel in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Don't ask me who's influenced me. A lion is made up of the lambs he's digested, and I've been reading all my life. -Giorgos Seferis, writer, diplomat, Nobel laureate (13 Mar 1900-1971)

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