20180407

10 Unusual words from Thank You Jeeves
























In recent weeks I have been reading P G Wodehouse's novel Thank you, Jeeves and I have found several words unfamiliar to me hitherto.

1. Dementia Praecox (Ch 1 p 6)
... the germ of dementia praecox
Nowadays the term dementia is used to describe an irreversible deterioration in brain function, the result of various medical conditions (senile dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.). Dementia praecox (premature dementia) was the 19th century term for the severe personality disorders that we now call schizophrenia. Eugen Bleuler established (1908) that these illnesses were not linked to an irreversible brain deterioration and introduced the new term schizophrenia to describe them more accurately. It is unlikely that Sir Roderick, in the 1930s, would use the term. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of the existence of a schizophrenia germ – modern science seems to lean more towards the idea of a schizophrenia gene.

2. Truckling (Ch 1 p 10)
Do I mean truckling?
A truckle-bed is a low bed on castors that can be rolled under another bed when not in use. The verb “truckle,” which originally simply meant to sleep on such a bed, had taken on a figurative sense of “lying down unworthily” or “cowering” by the late 17th century.

3. Sussuration (Ch.14; page 138)
a regular susurration of domestics
Susurration, in modern use, most often refers to the gentle murmur of a breeze. However, it can also mean whispering, and used to have an implication of malicious gossip. Bertie is using it here as though it were a collective noun (cf. “a pride of lions”)

4. Stearic matter (Ch.14 p 144)
a pretty eloquent plea from the stearic matter
A more general term than just butter; it refers to a usually solid compound found in most animal and some vegetable fats; suet and lard contain high proportions of it, and it is used in the manufacture of soaps, candles and many other products

5. Parasang (Ch 16 p 160)
about ten parasangs
The parasang is a Persian unit of measure, approximately equal to three miles (5km). (The example in the Shorter OED for the figurative sense of parasang is taken from another Wodehouse story)

6. Zareba (Ch 18 p 182)
I wedged myself a little tighter behin the old Zareba
A thorn stockade protecting a village or cattle pen. Mainly used in Somalia and the Sudan (from Arabic)

7. Roopy (Ch 18 p 183)
His voice ... it was harsh and roopy
Roopy means hoarse and is from a word meaning to shout

8. Mulct (Ch 18 p 185)
Mulct in substantial damages
To mulct is to penalise by means of a fine. Damages are normally a reparation, not a penalty, so this is not a standard legal expression.

9. Dipsomaniac (Ch 21 p 222)
... the melancholy dipsomaniac and socialist revolutionary, Brinkley
An alcoholic

10. Tumbril (Ch 22 p 227)
… the old aristocrat mounting the tumbril.
An open cart that tilted backwards to empty out its load, in particular one used to convey condemned prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution. A third reference in the book to A Tale of Two Cities

20180320

Death and dying expressions from Wikipedia

Expression
Definition
Context
Remarks
Assume room temperature
To die
Euphemistic slang
Used by talk radio host Rush Limbaugh when dictator or avowed enemy of US dies
At peace
Dead
Euphemistic

At rest
Dead
Polite

Belly up
Dead
Informal
Orientation of dead fish
Beyond the grave
After death
Neutral
In ref to communication with dead
Beyond the veil
The mysterious place after death
Neutral
Orig used to refer to the 'veil' that hid the Temple's Holy of Holies.
Bite the dust
To die or be killed
Informal
Also means 'failed'
Bite the big one
To die
Informal
North American.
Born asleep
Stillbirth
Neutral

Breathe one's last
To die
Literary

Brown bread
Dead
Slang
Cockney rhyming slang.
Bought the farm
Died
Slang
Also, shortened to 'bought it'
Cark-it
To die
Inf, version of 'croaked it'; common Ireland NZ Australia UK
The guy was running, had a heart attack and carked it.
Cash in one's chips
To die
Informal, euphemistic
Redemption for cash of gambling counters at the end
Candyman
Supernatural suicide
TV/Movie
Say 'Candyman' 5 times looking in a mirror and he comes and kills you with his hooked right hand
Charon
Ferryman of Hades
Neutral
Crosses rivers Styx & Acheron that divide the worlds of living & dead
Come to a sticky end
Die in an unpleasant way
Humorous
British. Also 'to meet a sticky end'.
Counting worms
Dead
Euphemistic

Croak
To die
Slang

Crossed the Jordan
Died
Biblical/Revivalist
Deceased has entered Promised Land (Heaven)
Curtains
Death
Theatrical
Final curtain at a drama
Dead as a dodo
Dead
Informal
Ref extinct flightless bird, Mauritius
Dead as a doornail
Obviously dead
Informal
Cf Dickens start Christmas Carol
Death by Misadventure
Avoidable death
Formal/Legal
Death resulting from risk-taking
Decapitation
Act of killing by removal of head, usually with axe or other blade

Much-favoured method of execution around the world. Notable egs include French Revolution (guillotine) and Tudor times (axe).
Deleted
Murdered
Literary

Defenestration
Act of killing by throwing out of a window


Departed
To die
Neutral

Destroyed
To die
Neutral
Usually refers to animal euthanisation
Die with one's boots on
To die while able, or during activity, as opposed to in infirmity or asleep
Euphemistic
Old West usage: Die in gunfight, cf They Died with Their Boots On Also dying in combat. Brit; cf Iron Maiden Die With Your Boots On
Didn't make it
Killed in action
Euphemistic

Done for
About to die
Neutral

Drop dead
Die suddenly
Neutral
also slang aggressive dismissal
Dropping like flies
Dying in droves
Simile
also falling ill in numbers
Erased
Murdered
Literary

Euthanasia
Assisted suicide
Formal

Exterminate
Kill
Directive
Exclaimed by Daleks (Dr Who) when ordered to kill
Extinct
When a species ceases to exist
Formal

Fading away
To be weakening and close to death
Neutral
Also to be 'fading fast'
Fall off one's perch
To die
Informal

Food for worms
Someone who is dead
Slang
Also 'worm food'
Fratricide
Murder among siblings
Formal

Free one's horses
To die
Neutral

Genocide
To completely exterminate all of a kind
Formal

Give up the ghost
To die
Neutral
Soul leaving the body
Glue factory
To die
Neutral
Usually refers to a horse
Gone to a better place
To die
Euphemistic
Heaven
Go over the Big Ridge
To die
Unknown

Go bung
To die
Informal
Australian. Can =fail, go bankrupt
Go for a Burton
To die / break irreparably
Informal
Brit WWII ad (Gone for a Burton)
Go to Davy Jones's locker
To drown or die at sea otherwise
Euphemistic
Peregrine Pickle describes Davy Jones as'the fiend that presides over all the evil spirits of the deep
Go to the big [place] in the sky
To die and go to heaven
Informal
Place in the afterlife paralleling  deceased's life eg Big ranch in sky
Go home in a box
To be shipped to one's birthplace, dead
Slang, euphemistic

Go out with one's boots on/with a bang/in style
To die while doing something enjoyed
Informal

Go to/head for the last round up
To die
Euphemistic
Associated with dying cowboys. Cf Going to that big ranch in the sky
Go to one's reward
To die
Euphemistic
Final reckoning, just desserts after death
Go to one's watery grave
To die of drowning
Literary

Go to a Texas cakewalk
To be hanged
Unknown

Go the way of all flesh
To die
Neutral

Go west
To be killed or lost
Informal
Refers to the sun setting
The Grim Reaper
Personification of death
Cultural
Skeleton with scythe, often cloaked
Hand in one's dinner pail
To die
Informal
No longer required at workmen's canteen
Happy hunting ground
Dead
Informal
Used to describe the afterlife according to Native Americans
Hara-kiri
(Ritual) suicide disembowelment
Japanese
See Seppuku. Often misspelt as Hari-kari.
Have one foot in the grave
To be close to death because of illness or age
Informal, sometimes humorous

Hop on the last rattler
To die
Euphemistic
"Rattler" is a slang expression for a freight train.
Hop the twig
To die
Informal
Also 'to hop the stick'. Pagan belief that to jump a stick on the ground leads to the Afterworld.
In Abraham's bosom
In heaven
Neutral
Cf Luke 16:22
Join the choir invisible
To die
Neutral
George Eliot poem 1867
Join the great majority
To die
Euphemistic
First used Edward Young but the phrase 'the majority' is extremely old
Justifiable Homicide
Homicide
Formal
Murder of lesser culpability attracting a lighter penalty
Kick the bucket
To die
Informal
Suicidal hanging Also 'kick off' (US)
Kick the calendar
To die
Slang, informal
Polish saying. 'Calendar' implies somebody's time of death (kicking at particular moment of time)
Killed In Action (KIA)
Death of military personnel due to enemy action
Military language, official and informal use

King of Terrors
Personification of death
Neutral
Also refers to death itself
Kiss one's arse goodbye
Prepare to die
Slang

Live on a farm (upstate)
To die
Euphemism
Usually referring to death of pet, esp parents to children The dog went to live on a farm
Lose one's life
To die in an accident or violent event
Neutral

Make the ultimate sacrifice
To die fighting for a cause
Formal
'make the supreme sacrifice'
Matricide
Mother murdered
Formal

Meet one's maker
To die
Euphemistic
According to Christian belief, soul meets God for final judgement
Murder Death Kill (MDK)
Homicide
TV/Movie
From 1993 film Demolition Man
Night
The state of death
Euphemism
From the Dylan Thomas poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Not long for this world
Will die soon; have little time left to live
Old-fashioned

Not with us any more
Dead
Euphemistic

Off on a boat
To die
Euphemistic
Viking expression, in fashion nowadays
Off the hooks
Dead
Informal
Brit Do not confuse with off the hook
On one's deathbed
Dying
Neutral

On one's last legs
About to die
Informal

One's hour has come
About to die
Literary

One's number is up
One is going to die
Slang

Pass away
To die
Euphemism; Polite
Also 'to pass on'
Pass in one's alley
To die
Informal
Australian
Patricide
Murders father
Formal

Pay the ultimate price
Die for a cause or principle
Neutral
Cf "To make the ultimate sacrifice"
Peg out
To die
Slang
British. Also means 'to stop working'
Pop one's clogs
To die
Humorous, Informal
Brit. "Pop"English slang for pawn. A C19th workman might tell his family to take his clothes to the pawn shop to pay for his funeral, his clogs being among the most valuable items
Promoted to Glory
Death of a Salvationist
Formal
Salvation Army terminology
Push up daisies
To have died and be under the ground
Humorous, Euphemistic
Early C20th. Also under the daisies and turn one's toes up to the daisies which date back to the Cmid-19th. Cf to turn up one's toes below.
Put down/put to sleep
To be euthanised
Euphemism
Euthanasia of an animal
Put one to the sword
To kill someone
Literary

Rainbow Bridge
Dead
Euphemism
Usually referring to death of a pet, ie "Crossing the Rainbow Bridge."
Ride the pale horse
To die
Euphemistic
Rev 6:8, a pale horse ridden by Death is one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Expression Behold a pale horse is the title of 1964 Fred Zinnemann film & 1991 book by ufologist William Milton Cooper
Send one to Eternity or to the Promised Land
To kill someone
Literary

Send (or go) to the farm
To die
Euphemism
Usually ref to death of a pet, esp if the owners are parents of young children ie The dog was sent to a farm
Shade
The state of death
Euphemism
From poem, "Invictus," by William Ernest Henley: Beyond this place of wrath and tears, Looms but the horror of the shade
Shuffle off this mortal coil
To die
Humorous, Literary
Cf Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Six feet under
Dead
Informal
6' is the trad depth of a grave
Sleeping with the fishes
Murdered, then disposed of in water.
Slang
Popularised by The Godfather
Snuffed out
Murdered
Literary
As in extinguishing a candle, or simply "snuff it"
Step off
To die
Informal, euphemistic
Character Ron Birdwell in The Late Show (1977) I'm always sorry to hear any of God's creatures stepping off
Struck down
To be killed by an illness
Neutral
Usually passive
Suicide
To take one's own life
Formal

Swim with concrete shoes
Gangster murder
Slang

Take a dirt nap
To die and be buried
Slang

Take a last bow
To die
Slang

Take the last train to glory
To die
Euphemism
Uplifting Christian take on destination heaven
Tango Uniform
Dead, irreversibly broken
Military slang
This is "T.U." in the ICAO spelling alphabet, an abbreviation for Tits Up (aeroplane crashed)
Terminate; esp Terminate with Extreme Prejudice
To kill; esp when carrying out an assassination as part of covert operation
Euphemism; Military slang
Orig during Vietnam War; later popularised by film Apocalypse Now
Top yourself
Commit suicide
Slang

Turn up one's toes
To die
Slang
Alternative to turn one's toes up to the daisies (See push up daisies)
Up and die
Unexpected death, leaving loose ends
Euphemistic

Wearing a pine overcoat (ie a wooden coffin)
Dead
Slang
Idiom of US gangsters C 20th
Wiped out ... way up ....
Dead, usually multiple individuals
Neutral