Daffynitions

Disclaimer: I have collected these over more than ten years. A few of them are my originals, and I understand the rest to be in the public domain.

Self-defining definitions

  • paradox – n., something that is not a paradox
  • recursive – adj., see recursive
  • nonsense – n., 1. flerping gorphazzle xawdrico. 2. the multiplication of xylophone and obstinative reactivation, especially tilted opposition.
  • vague – adj. (usually) sort of not very specific, if you know what I mean; but not exactly
  • verbose – adj., making use of long phrases in situations in which single words might, if necessary, suffice; and utilizing lengthy words which are entirely synonymous with other, more succinct and concise words, words which could have been used, and perhaps indeed should have been used, in that situation.

Food and Drink

  • Dijon vu: the feeling you’ve tasted this mustard before.
  • Fish+chips: the piece of cod that passeth understanding
  • Hangover: the mourning after the night before
  • Hangover: the wrath of grapes
  • Parsleymonious, adj.; stingy with the garnish
  • Queasine: food from a bad cafeteria
  • Sake + Prune Juice : Orient Express
  • Vodka + Prune Juice: Piledriver
  • Vodka + milk of magnesia: Philips screwdriver

Hey, that’s punny!

  • abdicate: to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach
  • adultery: more fun than infantry
  • Advocaat: a Dutch drink made from lawyers
  • alarms: what an octopus is
  • archaic: what we can’t have and eat it too
  • barium: what you do with dead chemists
  • Bathing beauty: a girl worth wading for.
  • bidet: two days before the Allied invasion of Normandy
  • carmelite: a nun who loves toffee
  • carte blanche: A Streetcar Named Desire
  • castrate: the hotel rate for actors
  • Circumvent: an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men
  • colic: a sheep dog’s tongue
  • copper nitrate: police overtime
  • coup de grace: French lawnmower
  • crick: The sound that a Japanese camera makes
  • cuticle: a baby who giggles when you touch him
  • downward: an adopted duckling
  • decadent: having ten teeth (Terry Pratchett)
  • disclexia: inability to keep your CDs organized (Rosie Paquette)
  • euphony: what you say to a hypocrite
  • Fido von Trapp: the Hound of Music
  • Freudian slip: when you say one thing but mean your mother.
  • haggard: witch protector
  • hallmark: graffiti
  • hallow: greeting to a clergyman
  • hamper: what happens when you stroke a pig
  • hardship: teak boat
  • harlot: where used hars are sold
  • harmonize: to wax a barbershop quartet
  • harmony: fee paid for a good joke
  • harum-scarum: Arabian horror film
  • hebrew: the manly beer
  • heirloom: apparatus for weaving oxygen
  • heretofore: playing golf
  • hermit: lady’s baseball glove
  • hierarch: what Noah needed for the giraffes
  • hierarchy: personnel department at McDonald’s
  • hockey: what you use to unlock a pawn shop
  • hollandaise: Dutch coma
  • holstein: an entire beer mug
  • horticulturalist: a snobbish art lover
  • hunchback: an intuitive football player
  • hundred: fear of Attila
  • hurricane: fast-growing sugar
  • hypotenuse: occupied airport washroom
  • inkling: a baby fountain pen
  • isometric: sign in the window of a modern tailor
  • khakis: what you need to start the car in Boston
  • kindred: horror of relatives
  • lymph: to walk with a lisp
  • neuritis: first-time novelists
  • octopus: eight-sided cat
  • pasteurize: too far to see
  • piles: a terminal illness
  • Polaroids: what Arctic bears get from sitting on icecaps
  • polygon: a missing parrot
  • privilege: what one sits on in an outdoor toilet
  • programme: in favour of metric
  • quasm, n.; idea; from Lat. “I’ve got a hunch”
  • repossession: result of not paying your exorcist’s bill
  • respectacles: eyeglasses worn by actors to make their characters look professional (from Antero Faria)
  • ricochet: Irish bouncer
  • roughage: how old you are, approximately
  • saplings: babes in the woods
  • schadenfreud: seeing a psychoanalyst to talk about others’ problems (from David Crowe)
  • seersucker: a fortune teller’s customer
  • sherbet: a wager you’re certain to win
  • shotgun wedding: a case of wife or death
  • telecommunications: a bit far-fetched
  • tenet, n.; a nearly-full box of Smarties
  • extenuate, n.;another nearly-full box of Smarties [M&Ms for Americans]
  • toad: what happens to an illegally-parked frog
  • will: a dead giveaway

Miscellaneous

  • Ethernet + financial statement = local area networth
  • Gentleman: one who can play bagpipes but chooses not to
  • Hospital gown: semi-private coverage
  • Jury: A group chosen to decide who has the best lawyer
  • ohnosecond: that minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you’ve just made a BIG mistake.
  • program: a device to turn data into error messages
  • programmer: a device for turning coffee into code
  • Christmas – when we sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of our socks

That isn’t what it means?

In this challenge, The Globe & Mail asks you to suppose that your English is limited, you have no dictionary, and you are trying to guess the meaning of composite (or apparently composite) words. Here are some of the “nice try” entries from two past contests:

  • romantics — computer-chip instability
  • fattest — bathroom scales
  • locomotive – crazy incentive
  • exorbitant – former astronaut
  • conduct — prisoner’s escape route
  • mendacity — urban renewal
  • parking – a good golfer
  • castrate — an actor’s salary
  • rearrange — back forty
  • departmental — thinking about quitting
  • malediction — guy talk
  • deliberate — recapture
  • improper — brat catcher
  • conscience — the study of fraud
  • teething — a golf ball
  • carrot — rust
  • emulate — dead Australian bird
  • restoration — talking in your sleep
  • deadbeat — homicide squad
  • legend — foot
  • furlong — shaggy
  • conflagration — one Stars & Stripes per prisoner
  • redolent — fast again
  • shortstop — a T-shirt
  • detergent — no means no
  • example — newly thin

Measurements

  • Time to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour = knot-furlong
  • Amount of beauty needed to launch 1 ship = 1 millihelen
  • surgically altered large intestine = 1 semicolon
  • Shortest distance between two jokes = a straight line
  • Ratio of an igloo’s circumference to its diameter = Eskimo Pi
  • Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement = bananosecond
  • If a centipede a pint, how much can a procipice?

Conversions

  • 1,000,000 aches = 1 megahertz
  • 1 million microphones = 1 phone
  • 1 million phones = 1 megaphone
  • 1 million bicycles = 2 megacycles
  • 2000 mockingbirds = two kilomockingbirds
  • 10 cards = 1 decacards
  • 1 million billion piccolos = 1 gigolo
  • 10 rations = 1 decoration
  • 10 cards = 1 decacards
  • 10 millipedes = 1 centipede
  • 8 nickels = 2 paradigms
  • 2 wharves = 1 paradox

New words

The Washington Post’s Style Invitational asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. These were some of the best:

  • Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
  • Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.
  • Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer.
  • Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
  • Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

The Post also ran a contest that produced these daffynitions:

  • Balderdash: a rapidly receding hairline.
  • Coffee : a person who is coughed upon.
  • Flabbergasted: appalled over how much weight you have gained.
  • Gargoyle: an olive-flavored mouthwash.
  • Flatulence: the emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller
  • Negligent: a condition in which you absent-mindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
  • Oyster : a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish expressions.
  • Pokemon: a Jamaican proctologist.
  • Rectitude : the formal, dignified demeanor assumed by a proctologist immediately before he examines you.
  • Testicle: a humorous question on an exam.
  • Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
  • Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
  • Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

Non-English phrases

The Globe & Mail’s Globe Challenge asked readers to add a letter to a non-English expression and redefine it. Some gems:

  • Stout le monde: Is everyone getting fatter these days?
  • Tour de forcep: a long and difficult birth
  • Inter alias: among other false names
  • Smuchas gracias: thanks for the kisses
  • Chile con carnet: permission to emigrate
  • Armor vincit omnia: Tanks beat everything
  • Patter familias: I recognize your footsteps
  • Coupe d’état: government limo
  • Tubermensch: Mr. PotatoHead
  • In vino verbitas: Drunks talk too much
  • Souse-chef: cooking with alcohol