High-Vocabulary Word of the Day

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Posts Tagged ‘humor’


Posted by kazvorpal on July 31, 2010


Laughable, ridiculous

This word once meant “capable of laughter”, like “Man is a risible animal”, but it’s meaning has transferred from active to passive, the same error as using “done” to mean “finished”.


The reciprocal civility of authors is one of the most risible scenes in the farce of life.
Samuel Johnson, The Life of Browne (1756)

The adventure of the fulling-mills in Don Quixote, is extremely risible, so is the scene where Sancho, in a dark night, tumbling into a pit, and attaching himself to the side by hand and foot, hangs there in terrible dismay till the morning, when he discovers himself to be within a foot of the bottom.
— Lord Henry Home Kames, Elements of Criticism (1761)

Orwell’s attempt to connect the leader of the Petrograd Soviet to the stalwarts of “Dad’s Army” is nearly, but not quite, risible.
Christopher Hitchens, Why Orwell Matters (2002)


Risus is latin the past tense of ridere, to laugh, so this can be remembered as coming from the same word as “ridicule”, however different it now sounds.


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Posted by kazvorpal on July 29, 2010


A neologism for a portmanteau created by incorrectly combining a malapropism with a neologism.

It is itself a portmanteau of “malapropism” and “portmanteau”


Malamanteau is a cromulent word
Randall Munroe, (∞)


Mala is Greek for “bad”, manteau is French for “cloak” (same origin as the word mantle)

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Posted by kazvorpal on October 11, 2009


n. An awkward boy, especially adolescent.

The son stayed with the third Professor for one more year, and when he came home again and his father asked, “My dimwitted hobbledehoy, what have you learnt?”
Lemony Snicket, Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography

Nothing but infantilism — the erotic visions of a hobbledehoy behind the barn.
— Henry Seidel Canby, “Mr. O’Hara and the Vulgar School”, a Saturday Review of Appointment in Samarra

This is a very iffy one, with completely conflicting origins documented here and there. “hob” is a word used elsewhere to refer to a clown or troublemaker, as in hobgoblin. de hey translates as “of the hedge”, used to mean “wild or feral”. These may comprise some of its 16th century roots.

On weekends, we may include more controversial or amusing words than during the week, but they should still be potentially useful in controversial or amusing situations.

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