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Home / Columns / Mind your language

Mind your language

After all the miserable news of the last few weeks it’s time for a little fun. So, relax, cast your woes aside and let’s see if I can make you chuckle. Karan Thapar writes.

columns Updated: Mar 02, 2013 23:29 IST
Karan Thapar
Karan Thapar
Hindustan Times

After all the miserable news of the last few weeks it’s time for a little fun. So, relax, cast your woes aside and let’s see if I can make you chuckle.

The Washington Post has just published the winners of its annual competition to create new words by taking any existing word and altering it by adding or subtracting or changing one letter and then supply a suitable meaning for the word thus created. The paper identified 17 winners in all. Here are the ones I consider the best.

‘Cashtration’: The act of buying a house which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time. ‘Ignoranus’: A person who’s both stupid and an asshole. ‘Bozone’: The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. ‘Sarchasm’: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it. ‘Glibido’: All talk and no action. ‘Beelzebug’: Satan in the form of a mosquito that attacks you at 3 in the morning. ‘Caterpallor’: The colour you turn after finding a worm in your half-eaten food.

The Washington Post has also published the winning entries for a second annual contest where readers are asked to supply new and alternative meanings for old well-known words. I found some of them particularly clever. Once again, here are the best.

‘Coffee’: The person upon whom one coughs. ‘Flabbergasted’: Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained. ‘Willy-nilly’: Impotent. ‘Balderdash’: A rapidly receding hairline. ‘Circumvent’: An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men. ‘Lymph’: To walk with a lisp. ‘Negligent’: Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a negligee. ‘Testicle’: A humorous question in an exam.

Now, if you’re the sort who can’t remember the precise meaning of words — like me — but are proud of the fact you can pronounce them properly, let’s see if you can tackle the following 20 sentences. Each of them uses the same word twice or more but the meaning, as well as the pronunciation, is very different. The test is to see if you can get both right.

1) The bandage was wound around the wound. 2) The farm was used to produce produce. 3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse. 4) We must polish the Polish furniture. 5) He could lead if he would get the lead out. 6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert. 7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present. 8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum. 9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes. 10) I did not object to the object. 11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid. 12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row. 13) They were too close to the door to close it. 14) The buck does funny things when the does are present. 15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line. 16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow. 17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail. 18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear. 19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests. 20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

And if by now you’re not laughing my apologies for wasting your time!

Views expressed by the author are personal

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