Monday, February 8, 2016

4: More twisted words

Finding these words was not always easy.  I wish I could claim, harking back to my opening theme of mental flexibility (to which I shall return as I wind up this account), that I just sat there and thought of them - one after another - in a burst of inspiration.  Oh what fun that would have been.  Actually, what happened after the first handful was that I started to plow through the dictionary, making lists of words that seemed to have potential and then their possible new meanings.  I also looked at that invaluable publication Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, which I recommend to all writers everywhere.

Here's a random few I picked out that never made it to storylines, but still amuse me:

escalope - noun for a rapid but dignified getaway
fable - an unreliable item of furniture with a tendency to disappear completely for periods of time
fingerprints - thumbnail sized works of fine art
investigate - help people to find suitable items of clothing to wear
jitters - people who can only be found in alleyways, passages etc.
kindred - a scary clan
poppycock - a rare and colourful condition affecting the male organ
novice - a person capable only of virtue
pillar - a vendor of dubious medicines
qualm - a period of time (often years) in which nothing eventful happens

You get the picture, I'm sure.

There are, I freely admit, one or two precedents for this at least.  One is certainly Douglas Adams' 'The Meaning of Liff' in which he lists place names and attributes often well-funny meanings to them.  Another is to be found in the Radio 4 programme 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue' and its 'Uxbridge English Dictionary' feature in which the esteemed panel find new meanings for words, almost invariably using the pun approach.  All good stuff, but - so far as I know - no one has ever used these definitions/re-definitions as a basis for stories.

So I'll get on to that part of the process next time I hit the 'post' button.  'Til then, walk tall, walk straight and look the whole world in the eye (except on bent, wiggly, astigmatic days).

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