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Archive for November, 2005

King me!

Samuel Johnson — poet, lexicographer, checkers-player? Indeed. Although Boswell reports that Johnson did not play checkers later in life, he was fond of it in college, and in fact wrote the dedication and preface to the first English language book on the rules, William
Payne’s An Introduction to the Game of Draughts. In the dedication he neatly defends the study of a mere game with words that
will stir the souls of Civilization IV and Dungeons & Dragons addicts the world over:

“Triflers may find or make any thing a trifle; but since it is the
great characteristic of a wise man to see events in their causes, to
obviate consequences, and ascertain contingencies, your Lordship will
think nothing a trifle by which the mind is inured to caution,
foresight, and circumspection.”

Published in:John Overholt |on November 30th, 2005 |Comments Off on King me!

A select view of Johnson’s Dictionary

Today, I’m cataloging the first edition of the Dictionary, and part of my job is to make sure that our copies aren’t missing any leaves. This requires collating them, which means going through and counting the signatures (sequential marks which tell a binder the correct order of the leaves) in each copy. A copy of the Dicitionary has 580 leaves in each of its two volumes, and we have five copies of the first edition in the Hyde Collection. Do the math, and you can see that it’s fairly labor-intensive. Since the signature appears on every other leaf, in the lower right corner, that’s pretty much all of the book I get to look at. Therefore, I’d like to present you with John’s Favorite Words Appearing in the Lower Right Corner of Every Fourth Page in Johnson’s Dictionary. Use one in conversation today!

Arbuscule. n.s. [arbuscula, Lat.] Any little shrub.
Cater-cousin. n.s. A corruption of quatre-cousin, from the ridiculousness of calling cousin or relation to so remote a degree.
Curdy. adj. [from curd.] Coagulated; concreted; full of curds; curdled.
To Embale. v.a. [emballer, Fr.] To make up into a bundle.
Evulgation. n.s. [evulgo, Lat.] The act of divulging; publication.
Flagitious. adj. [from flagitius, Latin .] Wicked; villainous; atrocious.
To Gloze. v.n. [Saxon.] To flatter; to wheedle; to insinuate; to fawn.
Kicksy-wicksey. n.s. [from kick and wince.] A made word in ridicule and disdain of a wife.
To Knubble. v.a. [knippler, Danish.] To beat.
Yux. n.s. [yeox, Saxon.] The hiccough.

Published in:John Overholt |on November 1st, 2005 |Comments Off on A select view of Johnson’s Dictionary