Posts tagged ‘funny’

September 1, 2012

Party Pooper

Party pooper is another of those funny words – at least my 8 year old thinks so.

A party pooper is somebody who ruins the fun and the enjoyment of a social situation, most notably a party, for everybody by being negative, gloomy, foul mooded or nagging.  People can be one-time or occasional partypoopers – which is bad enough – or habitual party poopers which means it is likely their personality rather than a bad day/week/month that makes them so unpleasant to be around.

The term can obviously be abused to try and pressure people into doing things they don’t want to do or don’t feel comfortable doing.  It is a way of exerting peer pressure.

“Oh, come on Jason, just because you had five beers doesn’t mean we can’t take a joyride in your dad’s Porsche now.  You are such a party pooper.”

There are other words for such people but none quite as graphic as party pooper.   Spoilsport would be another, or killjoy – both convey their meaning pretty unambiguously.

Searching for a fitting picture I found a lot of toilet humor.  Kind of disgusting so I leave you to image who a party pooper situation looks like

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April 1, 2011

April Fool’s Day

April 1 is pretty much universally the day to play practical jokes and a certain degree of foolishness and the US is no difference.  I personally have never experienced much foolishness or practical joke playing but that might just be me.  In my son’s 1st grade class everybody ha to tell a joke this week (and I can tell you, there aren’t many even halfway funny or cute jokes for 6-year olds).

So I thought about writing about the origin of April Fool’s day but when I looked it up it was another one of those long stories that starts something like that: “in 1381 xyz was translating the works of ABC and was believed to have made a mistake ….” to be followed by “in 1563 the King of …..”  I don’t know about you but at this point I don’t even want to know anymore, and realize full well that I won’t remember anything anyway.

So here just a short list of pranks that have been played over the years (courtesy wiki)

Spaghetti harvest in Switzerland. April Fool's Day! pic: blog.mtnspirit.org

The BBC television program Panorama ran a famous hoax in 1957, showing Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. They had claimed that the despised pest, the spaghetti weevil, had been eradicated. A large number of people contacted the BBC wanting to know how to cultivate their own spaghetti trees.

In 2005, a news story was posted on the official NASA website show pictures of water on Mars. The picture actually was just a picture of a glass of water on a Mars candy bar.

April 1, 1983: it's cold in Sydney, pic: atuladoice.hi5.com

And one last courtesy of our friends down under: In 1983, Australian millionaire businessman Dick Smith claimed to have towed an iceberg from Antarctica to Sydney Harbor. He used a barge covered with white plastic and fire extinguisher foam to convince witnesses.

March 25, 2011

Raining cats and dogs

It's raining cats and dogs, pic: nashvillescene.com

It has been raining very heavily for days without end in sight – so the old idiom “it is raining cats and dogs” came to my mind.  It means just that: very heavy and persistent rain.

I hardly ever use this idiom because I thought that it  is an old-fashioned expression and that nobody used it anymore and likely people wouldn’t even understand it anymore.  The first is true, the latter not necessarily as was proven to me the other day when my 6-year old said:  “Mama, it is raining cats and dogs!”

“Where did you get that expression?” I asked

“In school, from a book” he answered  – so obviously the idiom is still widely enough used to make it into kids’ school books.

The origin of the phrase is unknown and – as usual in some cases – a number of theories have been put forward.  One explanation that has some credibility as there is a documented source is that in England of the 17th century sewage and drainage systems weren’t very efficient and so when heavy downpours happened the streets were turned into rivers of doubtful water quality carrying with it all sorts of things, including the corpses of drowned cats and dogs.

Here is the reference: Jonathan Swift’s 1710 poem ‘Description of a City Shower’, in which he describes “Drowned puppies, stinking sprats, all drenched in mud,/Dead cats and turnip-tops come tumbling down the flood.”

This might or might not be the explanation but somehow it doesn’t matter.  I just wish it would stop raining cats and dogs.

February 20, 2011

Funny words, persnickety

The fussy Mr. Persnickety, pic:tvrecappersanonymus. wordpress.com

As I am writing about funny words I realize how often my first intuition about a word’s meaning is completely wrong.  Point in case: persnickety.  To me it sounds like sneaky or conniving – probably because of the “snickety” part that sound like “sneaky.”

Alas, it means something quite different: being fussy about details, being snobbish, requiring a great degree of precision.  if you require that everything is done just so you are a persnickety person.  Good synonyms would be nitpicking and finicky.

Here are some examples:

“The older he got the more persnickety he became.”

“Our math teacher is very persnickety, if not everything is perfect he gives you a bad grade.”

The word is fairly old and apparently of Scottish origin.  It is one of those words one uses rarely to make a point rather than incorporating it into the  everyday vocabulary.

February 19, 2011

Bailiwick

Another of those words that when I heard it the first time (and the second and the third) had no idea what it meant.  It is a strange word that sounds like nothing else I know.  Like with many of such words over time one develops a feeling for what they mean and how to use them to a point were I can use it correctly but still can’t define or translate it.

Filling in tax forms - not my bailiwick, pic: dangerousintersection.org

Okay, to end the suspense: bailiwick – as used in general language means a persons area of skill, knowledge authority, work, or expertise.

Here is an example:

“Sorry, I can’t help you with your taxes, filling in tax forms is really not my bailiwick.”

One from my own experience:  “I can’t help you with your swollen joints, I am a biologist, medicine is not my bailiwick.”

The origin for this one is known: the Middle English bailliwik(e) means “district under the jurisdiction of a bailiff (sheriff’s deputy)”.  That word derives from bailie (or bailiff) + wik(e) “village, district.”

February 16, 2011

Acme

I first encountered the word acme in Far Side cartoons where it invariably showed up as the brand name of a wide variety of fictional products and some especially inept enterprises.  So somehow I always believed acme was used for just – fictional brandnames.

An Acme Corp product at it's finest, pic: badtastephilly.com

And that is partially true, as acme – derived from the Greek acmē – made its appearances in the English language in the 1920 as the name of fictional products and companies in cartoons such as Road Runner.  Products supplied by Acme Corporation had a tendency to fail catastrophically at the worst possible time.

In real life acme means:  the highest level or degree attainable or the highest stage of development.  As such it makes sense to choose this as a brand name for your bakery or plumbing business.

Although one can think up example sentences using the word such as “His fame was at its acme” or “The acme of their soccer season was when they beat team xyz 3 :1″   nobody – in all my years in the US  – has actually ever ued that word in a complete sentence.

February 15, 2011

Funny word, curmudgeon

Always complaining on a high level, pic: writing-rag.com

Curmudgeon goes very well with the last funny word, cantankerous – in fact now that I understand both words they go together in my mind most of the time.

A curmudgeon in basically an cantankerous person, a bad-tempered, surly, miserly human being.  Or in fact, bad-tempered old man as the word seems to be (almost) exclusively used for man, preferably old man. Curmudgeons are cranky people whose crankiness exceed normal levels of occasional or ill temper.  There is abit of a redeeming factor about curmudgeons, the complain – a lot – but they do it with a black sense of humor,with a certain style and dedication not found in your run-of-the-mill complainer.

The grandfather in The Simpson is a curmudgeon, and Walter Matthau in “Grumpy Old Men” is an excellent curmudgeon specimen and so are the two old guys on the balcony at the Muppet Show.

Another of those words that go back centuries and who’s origin has been lost in history.  So let’s not worry about it.

February 13, 2011

Funny word, cantankerous

Not the greatest example but a good excuse to put a Star Trek pic up, pic: wordotheday10.blogspot.com

Cantankerous is one of those words – at least for me – that don’t betray what they mean from the way they sound.  Cantankerous could be anything

from a way a weapon or piece of equipment is used in warfare (it has tank in it after all), to the taste of exotic seafood.  It is neither, not even close.

Cantankerous is an adjective which means bad-tempered, argumentative, uncooperative, stubborn, cranky, irritable.  The origin is – again –

somewhat disputed, the prevailing theory being that the word is a blend of contentious (argumentative, belligerent) and rancorous (bitter, resentful) – which makes for a pretty awful state of mind.

Examples come to mind a lot when thinking about unpleasant people, like that neighbor across the street from your childhood home who complained about just about everything you did to your parents or that nasty landlord with the millions of rules about things like how many pictures you could hang before in the apartment to avoid undue damage to the walls.

All in all, you totally want to avoid ever being called cantankerous.

January 31, 2011

Funny words, scuttlebutt

The perfect place to exchange scuttlebutt, pic: blog.timesunion.com

When I first heard the word scuttlebutt I thought of some type of ugly but reasonably well-tasting fish.  I was off with that association as I soon learned, however, I wasn’t as far off the mark as I first thought when I heard what the word actually means: gossip or rumor.

Here is why: in the olden days the water for consumption was kept in a cask (also called butt) which had been scuttled by making a hole in it.  Through that hole the water could be taken out.  Now it seems the sailors back then and the modern office worker have at least one thing in common: they talk, gossip and exchange rumors when they are at the water cask or cooler.  So gathering by the scuttlebutt became the navy slang for rumor.

Here is an article called “Scuttlebutt Advantage” about the advantage of collecting scuttlebutt for investment decisions.

January 30, 2011

Funny words, mollycoddle

This definitely looks like a mollycoddled dog, pic: http://blog.pawshpal.com/tag/pet-industry/

Now here is a funny word that sort of sounds like what it means. If you say it a few times you will start to intuitively start getting what it might mean, namely to overprotect, pamper somebody or treat somebody – often a child or a spouse – with (over)indulgent care.

The element of overprotection is important in this word, it implies not just spoiling somebody but doing so to an extend that might ultimately be harmful to the mollycoddled person because they aren’t prepared for the harsh reality after being mollycoddled for too long.

Examples:

“His mom mollycoddled him far too long.  Now he is 35 and she still does his laundry and cleans is bachelor pad every week.  He’ll never grow up.”

The origin of the word is not very exciting, Webster says that it derives from the diminutive name for Mary plus coddle, which is related to caudle, which is a warm drink of gruel with wine, eggs, etc for invalids.

Here are