CRAIG CONLEY (Prof. Oddfellow) is recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation.” He has been called a “language fanatic” by Page Six gossip columnist Cindy Adams, a “cult hero” by Publisher’s Weekly, a “monk for the modern age” by George Parker, and “a true Renaissance man of the modern era, diving headfirst into comprehensive, open-minded study of realms obscured or merely obscure” by Clint Marsh. An eccentric scholar, Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size. Conley’s website is
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The Right Word

July 17, 2019 (permalink)

We're delighted that Lacey Echols called our One-Letter Words: A Dictionary "fool-proof," a "saving grace," "extremely educational, entertaining, and useful."  Here's a snippet from the article "My Visit to Grant's Tome" (Word Ways), in which our dictionary is put to the test:
I wanted to find all one-letter, two-letter, three-letter, etc. words in any given word.  There was one problem.  Even though I have a fairly large vocabulary, I do not know many words which are one-letter words.  Ask me to identify three- and four-letter words, and I am at ease.  One letter?  The only common single letter words are 'a' and 'I'!  However, I was fortunate to hear about a book which could be my saving grace, One-Letter Words: A Dictionary, by Craig Conley.  I felt my confidence begin to soar because with the help of this dictionary I should easily be able to count all one-letter words in any given word, or could I?  Being a bit of a skeptic, I tested my skill with the word 'ait.'  'I' and 'a' are legitimate, but what about 't'?  Sure enough, Mr. Conley provides 58 instances in which 't' is used as a word.  As an example, 'it suits you to a T' uses 't' as a word.  Hallelujah!  But 'ait' is a fairly simple word.  What about 'Mozambique'?  I feel a time-consuming project ahead.  Actually, the dictionary is fool-proof.  There are thirty-five examples using the word 'z' and even twenty-seven examples of the word 'q'. ... I found [Conley's dictionary and Jeff Grant's Concise Dictionary of 2 Letter Words] to be extremely educational, entertaining, and useful for a novice word counter.  Maybe if I never let anyone use these books, I will be able to win all games which include identifying actual words in any given word.
#one-letter words
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July 16, 2019 (permalink)

It's now politically incorrect to call foreign languages "strange tongues."  We once studied strange tongues but didn't keep in practice (we weren't friends with enough strangers), so now we're better at reading strangely than speaking strangely.  From North Central's 1986 yearbook.
Do you already know the secrets of Fluency in 5 Minutes?
#vintage photo #vintage yearbook #smiling man #strange tongues #foreign languages #political correctness
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July 10, 2019 (permalink)

“Perhaps it is time we stopped pretending that medical-sounding labels contribute anything to our understanding of the complex causes of human distress or of what kind of help we need when distressed.” —Professor John Read, qtd. in "Study: Psychiatric Diagnoses Are ‘Scientifically Meaningless’ In Treating Mental Health"
#mental illness #big science #psychiatry
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July 8, 2019 (permalink)

Not only is this a precursor to How to Be Your Own Cat, but check out that word "metamorphosiological"!  This is the only instance of that word in print that we've found.
From The Woman That Was a Cat, A Metamorphosiological Sketch in One Act by Eugene Scribe, originally presented in 1827.
#cat people #old book #cat woman
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July 3, 2019 (permalink)

Here's an entry from The Dictionary of Ugly Words, a book attributed to us.
#ugly word #deconstruction
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June 29, 2019 (permalink)

Many feel worried about being labeled a homophone.  And for good reason!  Homophones live in constant turmoil.  They might be inappropriately complimented on their tails instead of their tales.  They may seek a night out and instead find themselves with an out knight.  Oiling up for a hot sun in the sky, they may find themselves burning for a hot son in this guy.  They may fear that wholly idle hours "could make a holy idol ours."  Their addressed mail could transform into a dressed male.  They can forget joining aural sects.  They must be careful lest they gaze farther at a gay's father.  The very idea of wresting yore feat on a pouffe leaves them utterly confused.  

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June 27, 2019 (permalink)

Here's some maledicta punctuated by firecrackers, from Purdue's 1916 yearbook.


How to translate fireworks as rhyming slang in maledicta [and if any seem old-fashioned, they are!]:

bam = damn

bang = bang [fornicate]; dang

blam = damn

blast = blast[-it] [British]

boom = bum [British for buttocks]

burst = cursed

crack = cack [British for excrement]; whack[-off]

fizz = shit

flash = ass; dash[-it all] [British]

hiss = piss[-off]; shit

pop = pop[-off]

snap = crap

sputter = mutter[-fucker]

whistle = rissole [Australian slang for rectum]

whizz = wiz [urinate]

whoosh = gadzooks

zip = flip[ping] [British]


bomb = "f-bomb"

missle = miserable

mortar = mortar-fucker

flare - swear

rocket = fuck it

shell = hell

#vintage illustration #vintage yearbook #maledicta #vintage car
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June 25, 2019 (permalink)

"Text fly within the book only."  At first, we interpreted that as, "words take flight within the confines of the book covers."  Given that the book in question (scanned here by is about Merlin, that felt about right.  (Even so, one might argue otherwise, that text can fly outside of a book as well; consider some persons being "crammed to the throat with Scripture, so that they cannot open their mouths but a text flies out" [An Inquiry Into the Nature of Responsibility by T. Simmons Mackintosh, 1840]).  But then we realized that a "text fly" is what emerges from a bookworm's cocoon ... and so this particular book has encased or imprisoned a text fly, presumably for entomologists.
#text fly
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June 11, 2019 (permalink)

The last two words in this book are not "the end" but "the beginning."  In fact, any author can finish a book this way and thereby turn it into a living text.  A doodle of a crown is optional but can't hurt.  From The Sword in the Stone, written and illustrated by T. H. White, 1939.
#vintage illustration #crown #the beginning
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June 5, 2019 (permalink)

Here's a mention of a nonsensical vowelless word ... and we wish the consonants in question had been included, because it might very well have appeared in Webster's Dictionary of Improbable Words: All-Consonant and All-Vowel Words.
From Million Dollar Baby by Amy Patricia Meade, 2006
#all-consonant word #vowelless
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June 4, 2019 (permalink)

Here's an entry from The Dictionary of Ugly Words, a book attributed to us.
#ugly word #non-zero-sumness
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May 28, 2019 (permalink)

To this day, there are fewer than 50 Google results for the word "phototures."  From Rockingham's 1970 yearbook.
#vintage illustration #vintage yearbook #face #light and dark #cartooning #phototure
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"It was a boojum."  From The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll and illustrated Henry Holiday, 1876.
#vintage illustration #vintage book #lewis carroll #buoy #boojum
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May 22, 2019 (permalink)

"Is there a word for that awful realization that your colleagues are as bad as your students? There should be. Gedämpfteerwartungenenttäuscht or something like that." —The Musubi Murder, by Frankie Bow (via Jonathan Caws-Elwitt)

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May 14, 2019 (permalink)

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May 3, 2019 (permalink)

Oh!  From Jungle Night by William Beebe, 1918.
#oh #wail #woe
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May 1, 2019 (permalink)

Here's an entry from The Dictionary of Ugly Words, a book attributed to us.
#dictionary #gargoyle #ugly word
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April 30, 2019 (permalink)

"Say it with cauliflowers."  From The Judge, 1922.
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April 27, 2019 (permalink)

Not a strange unit of measure, the "Ounce" is, of course, another name for a snow leopard.  From Tales About Animals by Peter Parley, 1870.
#vintage illustration #leopard #big cat #snow leopard #ounce
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April 2, 2019 (permalink)

What words make you want to die?  Here's one, in an entry from The Dictionary of Ugly Words, a book attributed to us.
#dictionary #panties #ugly word
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