music can swing itself or a car can be crazy
“gravy boat” is slowly disappearing
correct is corrupted into kee-rect,
popularized by a comic strip character
True rhyming slang was first a secret argot originating
with Cockney street vendors, petty thieves, and criminals
during the early nineteenth century.
taboo words contain many of the ----shit words, as bull shit, chicken shit, horse shit, etc.
bassackwards is a Spoonerism formed by transposing the initial consonant of the second syllable to the beginning of the word
corn once meant grain of any type
a good ripe God damn or hell doesn’t present a realistic picture to the modern mind
daisy from “day’s eye”
ice-cold and blueberry; underdog and head-on; sideswipe and playboy; kick-off, Italian cut; baby-sit, hep-cat or hot shot; “God be with ye” has become good-by
A classic example of generalization by concatenation is the
word cardinal. The word took on the meaning of “the
basic prime importance,” as in “cardinal number”; then
it came to mean a person of chief importance, specifically
a “cardinal” of the Roman Catholic Church; then the word
was used to describe the yellowish-scarlet color associated
with the robe of a cardinal; from which it came to mean
an American bird of this color; and later even came to be
the name of the St. Louis Cardinals, a baseball team, whose
symbol is that bird.
liquor once meant any liquid
little languages such as Pig Latin, Gree, and Ong are used to conceal the speaker’s meaning from outsiders, but often this is done to amuse rather than for secrecy
examples of corrupted pronunciations include
foist and boid for first and bird
and nerts for nuts
back clippings such as Caddy for Cadillac
besides including many onomatopoetic children’s words, reduplication covers pidgin or simplified English and foreign folk borrowings of English words, as chop-chop fuck-fuck, she-she
the standard interrogation “WHAT do YOU SAY?” when used as a slang greeting becomes “What-da-ya SAY!”
Skimono jive has nothing to do with jive or jive talk;
to form it, sk-- is merely added before every word, or
in a more advanced form, before every syllable. Thus:
“sk-you sk-can sk-talk sk-skimono sk-jive.”
path(ology), photo(graph), quad(rangle), trig(onometry)
in the second order of reduplications, the most common change in the initial consonant is to w: footsie-wootsie, jobsie-wobsie, nasty-wasty
fad word are not true slang, though many could be called counter words
infixes are amxes stuck into the middle of a word:
stratemagee, razzamatazz, thingamajig
front clippings: still (from distillery), gate (from alligator), tec (from detective)
Sputnik was introduced directly without the help of
immigrants, soldiers, or travelers: immediately
thereafter evolved a group of words taking the
Russian ----nik ending, such as beatnik.
heebie-jeebies can be clipped to either heebies or jeebies
specialization in slang has given us the chair, gay, and moll
A.W.O.L (absent without leave), BS (bull shit)
G.A.C (grilled American cheese sandwich), p.o. (pissed off), s.o.l. (shit out of luck), etc.
diagnose (diagnosis), jell(y), and resurrect(ion)
up yours = up your ass
Maxwell House’s coffee slogan--”good to the last drop”--has seen some generalized use
In the slang “It’s a real cool day” (in which real cool
takes on its post-1946 slang use), real always receives
a very strong emphasis and the standard day
receives almost none, almost being swallowed. The
slang real cool, virtually run together as one word.
borrowings come from every language and country:
burger, butt, calaboose, chisel, juke, punk, shmo, and yen
back slang is formed by respelling a word backward:
enob = bone (penis); yob = boy; ecilop or even e-slop may = police
stump words: math(ematics), memo(random), cig(arettes), homo(sexual), hood(lum), sis(ter), sis(sy)
intentional rhyming terms associated with teenagers
are often derogatory or critical
a man can be a blue-stocking, a stuffed shirt, a tin-horn; he can be fried or hardboiled,
can bounce like a rubber ball; or he can even be a rock or square
spark it of 1780 appears as spark by 1800
besides the common luncheonette, we have lunchatorium,
cleaneteria, boy-crazy, Republicanitis, disc jockey, old man, Sunday driver
A classic example of corruption of the meaning of a word
is the standard exotic which often is meant to mean “mildy
erotic.” Thus, a strip-tease dancer is often advertised as
“exotic,” either by popular misconception or by erroneously
confusing exotic and erotic.
blend words: alcoholiday, ambisextrous, anecdotage, cinemactress, insinuendo
slang also forms a few mock abbreviations
by phonetically substituting letters for words as in I.O.U
bibble-babble, buzz-buzz, chitter (---chatter), jibber (----jabber), ubble-gubble, yak(ety)-yak(ety)
slang onomatopoetic words:
bow-wow and ki-yi for dog; bash, bop, clinks (ice cubes), moo, putt-putt (motorboat)
front clippings include (a)mend, (de)spite, (peri)wig, (be)bop, croot (from recruit),
(con)fess, (tele)gram, etc.
To make the rhyming code less obvious as well as
shorter, the last and rhyming part of the substitute
phrase is oven dropped, leaving as a rhyming slang
a word that does not rhyme with the word it
replaced. Thus in plates of meat = feet, the rhyming
word and preposition can be dropped leaving
plates = feet. In like manner, twist and twirl = girl
is back clipped to twist = girl.
flats (flat-heeled shoes), jet (jet-propelled airplane),
kings (king-sized cigarettes), nylons (nylon stockings)
coat + badge = to cadge (to beg), Johnny Ronce = ponce (pimp)
“jocular folk etymology” is a sophisticated corruption formed by giving jocular
mispronunciation to a foreign or complicated term:
fox paw for faux pas, olive oil for au revoir
rhyming terms may be based on alliteration, as cow college, gyp joint, San Quentin quail; slant rhyming terms also occur: dead beat, hod rod, weed tea
Adults usually form back clippings, children prefer front
clippings. An adult says enough of a word to identify
it (prof for professor), whereas a child says the part of a
word he remembers or can pronounce easily (‘fes-sor
American slang has taken hooch and pow-wow from the Indians
standard nouns such as chin, ditch, eye, ink, jaw, and stomach all have slang or colloquial uses as verbs;
standard verbs such as break, catch, combine, hit, kick, kill, sell, show,
and smoke all have colloquial or slang uses as nouns
bon voyage dance and bon voyage party
suffix words for people of limited or confused minds:
----buggy, ----bugs, ----crazy, ----daffy, ----dippy, ----dizzy, ----wacky
plates of meat = feet not only rhymes, but the phrase suggests the imagine of a platter, which is vaguely foot-shaped, and meat has the connotations of flesh
Thus hand = a pledge of betrothal, handwriting,
assistance (“give me a hand”); a person employed as
a laborer (“hired hand,” “farm hand,” “section hand”);
the assortment of playing cards held by one player;
to guide, give, or pass (“Hand me that plate”); a
hand’s breath (approximately four inches, as “that
horse is sixteen hands high”) and so forth.
choo-choo = train; tick-tock = clock
sickey-ackey for psychiatry, very close veins for varicose veins
Chevrolet’s rhyming slogan of “eye it, try it, buy it”
finds some generalized use = sampling anything from food to sexual intercourse
synthetic expressions include Hey Abbott!, Coming Mother!, and I dood it!
colos(sal), magnif(icent), sensay(sensational)
such phrases as battery acid and tar water both = coffee and bovine extract = milk are at best recurring nonce words and never popular enough to be called jargon or cant, much less slang
American slang has taken cinch, loco, and the suffixes ----eteria and ----eroo
from the Spanish of the Southwest
motel (motorist + hotel), motorcade (motorcar + cavalcade) and smog (smoke + fog)
Fastred (dye), Glo-Coat (wax), No-Nox (gasoline), Polishine (a polish that also shines) and other non-blend coinages, such as Kodak, maybe be generally popular, but they are never slang
Thus horn has one primary meaning to an automobile
mechanic, a different primary meaning to a jazz
musician, another to a blacksmith, a saddle maker, a
hi-fi enthusiast, a cuckold, or a bullfight fan. Round
also has many generalized meanings, though but
one primary meaning to a boxer, a different primary
meaning to a butcher, bridge player, bartender,
singer, draftsman, mathematician, cowboy or
mingy (mean + stingy) and scrowsy (screwy + lousy)
it is possible to make reduplications from almost any word
aloha (Hawaiian for “love”) has become popularized by the steamship,
as in aloha dance, aloha party, and aloha week
a cup (of coffee), black (coffee), Danish (pastry), french (fried potatoes), etc.
Chi for Chicago, Pennsy for Pennsylvania, ammo for ammunition, beano for beanery; fave (favorite), letch (lecher), looey (lieutenant), lube (lubrication), nabe (neighbor), natch (naturally)
automobubble, bootician, kaydet, martooni, etc.
Carnese (also called Goone Language or Goon Talk)
is a true little language argot originated and used by
carnival workers. As with most little languages, it
is easy to decipher when seen, but confusing when
heard spoken very rapidly by initiates. Basically,
it is formed by adding an ----eeiz, ----eeaz, ----ez, or
----az sound between each consonant and vowel.
Thus, “yeeizou ceeizan teeizalk Ceeizarneeizese.”
bean pole is a single radiation from a basic image and is a direct metaphorical use
the popular joke concerning an extremely passionate rabbit who attempts to make love to an iron statue of a female rabbit has the punch line
wham, bam, thank-ye-ma’am
Darwin’s atoll, Huxley’s agnostic, Theodore Roosevelt’s lunatic fringe,
Woodrow Wilson’s self-determination, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal,
Winston Churchill’s iron curtain
curses using the name of God, Jesus and religious and infernal images
seem to be losing popularity in favor of the one-word epithets referring to excrement or sex
See Jonathan Swift’s diatribe against earlier back clippings:
in The Tatler, Sept. 28, 1710, No. 280, he objects to hipps
(hypochondriacs), mobb (mobile vulgus, from which we
get mob), pozz (positive), and rep(utation), among others.
the (West) Point, the (French) Quarter, the (Greenwich) village
primitives used suffixes and prefixes to create polysyllabic words
“It’sa REALCOOL day.”
many fad words of the 1920’s were second order
reduplications, and many were associated with carnival use,
as hoop-de-doop, hoop-a-doop, kinxiwinx, row-dow
C = cocaine, H = horse or heroin, M = morphine
any polysyllabic word having an accented first syllable can readily be shortened, so that many nonce words, fad words and neologisms exist, and many thousand more are possible
to auth (from author), to burgle (from burglar), to orate (from oration), to ush (from usher)
front clippings: (menstrual) period, (down) with it, etc.
Most new words are formed by changing the meaning
of the old ones, either by generalizing their meaning
through the linguistic processes of concatenation or
radiation, or by specializing their original meanings.
BVD’s, DT’s, hot shot, nit-wit, rough stuff
sometimes slang usage is said louder or somewhat stressed in a sentence whereas the standard usage is not
Walter Winchell has coined such synthetic blend words
as infanticipate (=anticipating a baby, pregnant)
and Renovate (=renewing one’s single status in the divorce center of Reno, Nevada)
in slang, lady’s room (though actually a euphemism)
and queer are excellent examples of degradation;
egghead and pad have been elevated
Aristotle = bottle
Richard the Third = bird
Betty Lee = tea
Bo Peep = sleep
--all poem lines found in the Dictionary of American Slang, compiled and edited by Harold Wentworth and Stuart Berg Flexner, published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1960
noun : contemplation of one's navel as an aid to meditation
Mine is an innie so it looks more like a buttonhole than a button. And there’s a pink stitch narrowing the dip since the laparoscopy operation. Plastic surgeons now actually insert rolled-up breast implants through a tube via the belly button, then fill them up with with salt water--no obvious scar. But the bellybutton, of course, is a scar itself, our very first one, left over from the umbilical cord, its stump rolling out like a cork from a bottle of flat champagne. Oh pretty scar, oh hear the oomph in omphaloskepsis, oh see the halo in omphaloskepsis.
Oh navel and navel oranges, oh bellybuttons on the moon mistaken as craters. Oh pockmarks and dimples, bellybutton cousins.
The Greeks erected a holy stone, the Omphalos, which they thought marked the center of the universe. Oh Easter Island, your original name, the Navel of the World.
Oh pretty scar, oh hear the “om” in omphaloskepsis. The bellybutton as sacred bowl, as shallow vagina, as basin. Imagine the churning of the ocean in yours. Or the swirling of tap water, clockwise in the Northern Hempishere, counter-clockwise in the Southern Hempishere, the Coriolis effect. You haven’t lived, Cat said, until someone has eaten Cheeze Wiz from your bellybutton.
“KF said that she also got pleasurable clitoral sensations when she scratched the lower half of her belly button really deeply. However, KS said touching her belly button made her go to the toilet. J said that the sensation was more painful than pleasurable. L said that scratching her belly button gave her a sensation in her right forearm (but only after she had broken her right elbow). Greg said that touching his belly button made him nauseous--but only after sex. Jason got a sharp pain in the end of his penis when he scratched his belly button. Rick experienced an unpleasant sensation in his penis while being tattooed around, and partly inside, his belly button.” (from Science Talkbalk, Dr. Karl)
“How beautiful you are my darling...thine navel is like a round bejeweled goblet...The belly is like a heap of wheat surrounded with lilies!” (Songs of Solomon 7:2)
"Don Emmanuel grinned, scratched his rufous beard and then his pubic region, and said, 'I will give you all the advice in the world if only you can tell me why it is that the dingleberries excavated from my navel by Felicidad are always composed of blue lint, when I possess no clothes of that colour.' " (Louis de Bernières, The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman)
The older you are, the more bellybutton lint you acquire. Males with hairy stomachs tend to store more lint, though there is no relation between bellybutton lint and a person’s overall build. Skin type does not affect bellybutton lint, though lint color often reflects skin tone. Lint is lighter for light skinned people, darker for dark skinned people.
This Stick-on Belly Button Cleaner is a Japanese invention, an adhesive pad which you apply “over and into the offending area, and then remove after 10 minutes (making sure you dispose of the evidence discreetly.)” Available from the Lung Shing Dispensary Company in Hong Kong at a cost of HK$48 for six adhesive strips.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The barber’s pole is really an umbilical cord--the bright red veins and white Wharton’s jelly. And a poem is really a navel-excavator. A poem puts on a hardhat and climbs deep into a dark cavern speckled with dandelion fuzz.
An artist named Berlin sculpts bronze bellybuttons from actual navels he sees in Soho.
"Leanne rang in to my Science Talkback show. She wanted to know why up until a year earlier, whenever she touched her belly button she had felt a pleasurable sensation in her clitoris. Unfortunately, after she had a laparoscopy (which went in via her bellybutton) she stopped feeling pleasure in her clitoris. In fact, she wondered if she would ever get it back again - because it felt pretty dang good. The e-mail response was huge. Both Katie and Sharon had had experiences similar to Leanne's. Luckily, their laparoscopies left them with some (but reduced) pleasurable sensation.” (Dr. Karl)
Raphael and Michelangelo painted Adam with a navel that (according to the Bible) he didn’t have. In 1944, the U.S. House Military Committee refused authorization of a booklet Races of Man, that was to be handed out to American Soldiers fighting in World War II. One of the booklet’s illustrations showed Adam and Eve, each with a navel, that would have been “misleading to gullible American Soldiers.”
Oh Cher, oh Britney Spears, oh Jeannie in your hip-hugger harem pants. The navel fetishist. The dark abyss of navel worship. The Levi's TV commercial with eerie computer-generated singing bellybuttons. Brianna said, “I've only seen it once, and by the end of the thirty seconds, I was huddled against my boyfriend begging him to change the channel. The bellybuttons looked like they were screaming anuses from hell.” The piercings. The infections. The pink navel crystal used for meditation.
Notes from Gerhard Reibman’s Centered: Understanding Yourself Through Your Navel:
-horizontal navel (spreading sideways over your tummy): you’re highly emotional
-vertical navel (runs up and down your tummy): you’re generous, self-confident
-outie (protruding bellybutton): you’re optimistic
-concave navel: you’re gentle, loving, cautious, delicate, prone to worry
-off-center navel: you’re fun-loving, but have wide emotional swings
-evenly-shaped circular navel: you’re modest, even-tempered, quiet, lucky
A group of mystics called “omphalopsychics” gazed at their own navels to induce hypnotic reverie. Greek Christian monks used a specific method of navel contemplation called Hesychasm.
“Every time an abdomen is examined, the eyes of the clinician, almost instinctively, rest momentarily upon the umbilicus. How innumerable are the variations of this structure!” (Hamilton Bailey, Demonstrations of Physical Signs in Clinical Surgery.)
Once an innie met an outie, a button finding a buttonhole. The two slept that way for decades, the outie filling what was missing in the innie, the innie providing a space where the outie could be safe. A thumb in the mouth, a planter filled with a dirt and a plant. The two were cold when they had to pull apart to go to work, each pothole, each puddle, each bump in the road, as one drove east and the other west, reminding them of their singular loneliness.
Self Portrait without Glasses
I misread my own name:
Denise as Dense,
Denise as Dines,
Denise as Demise,
Denise as Denies.