The Square Root of Bugger All

January 31, 2009

A really good expletive (n. an exclamation, often profane [<L ex- completely + plere to fill]) has certain requirements, in terms of how it comes out.  It must be short.  “Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious” would never do.  It must have, as the derivation suggests, some sense of filling completely, to the point of the dam breaking with the weight of it all.  Some expetives, like the perinnial favorite “fuck,” do this with the filling happening through the word, the pressure building through the “f” sound, then bursting at the end when we reach the wall of the “k”.   With others, the filling-up is implied – that is, it happens before the word begins – and the expetive itself begins with the bursting.  For example, when we say “Damn it!” or “Darn!” or “Turkey legs!” or “Bugger!” we are crashing through the dam with that very first consonant.

Just saying these words is satisfying.  It doesn’t matter in the least what they really mean or where they came from – at least, as far as the physical satisfaction of verbal expression goes.

But then, one day, we want more.  We want, not just the physical satisfaction of expressing that bursting, but also some mental satisfaction.  After all, we are humans, and as such we always want more.  So we take our perfectly good expetive, our bludgeon or hammer, and we start working on it.  Hm, let’s see:  we’ll take off a bit here and here, and just add this little bit to this side of it, and that over there…  Now, how does it look?

We emerge (for example) with “the square root of bugger all.”  It’s not an expletive any more – way too long, too hard to say.  Our hammer has become a much more specialized tool: a dagger with a hook at the tip, or maybe a jointed extension for a wrench, for going around corners to get to hard-to-reach nuts.  The filling up and bursting are a distant memory, a casual reference; and part of the pleasure of it is the distance.  We remember it, we smile at it and pet it and dress it up – civilized after all.  

What’s this got to do with anything?  You guessed it: the square root of bugger all (meaning, of course, even less than bugger all).  It was just an excuse to write that phrase, which I like, in the blog.  Thanks again to the Urban Dictionary!


Karate and Karma

January 2, 2009

In the dictionary at my desk, the entry for karate is immediately followed by the entry for karma. Coincidence? Profoundly unlikely! Just look at the two definitions:

  • karate – an Oriental method of hand-to-hand combat utilizing a variety of sudden, forceful blows.
  • karma – 1. Hinduism and Buddhism. The spiritual force generated by one’s actions, which determines one’s reincarnated situation. 2. Loosely, fate.

In both cases, there is a central theme of force, generated by one’s actions and affecting one’s situation. In both cases, the generation of the force is in one’s own control. The force I generate in my blows affects the outcome of the self-defense effort – perhaps my life; the spiritual force from my chosen actions determines my next lifetime. The force generated, and the direction it takes, depend entirely on the person generating the force, on his or her determination, skill and discipline.

Karate is usually understood to apply to the more immediate, day-to-day situation, and karma to the trajectory of lifetimes. But what creates that larger spiritual force which carries us into our next lifetime, and next, and next? How does a gal – or guy – begin to affect that trajectory? With the hand-to-hand, everyday generation of force – in short, karate.

Therefore, I am forced – not just because I study karate, but as a sensible person tuned into the message of the dictionary – to conclude that all enlightened masters studied karate.

Agree? Disagree? Study martial arts? Believe in reincarnation? Let us know!


December 30, 2008

I just searched on “definition boogle” – a word I thought I’d made up – in order to find an online dictionary, and behold – it actually has a whole string of meanings.  Here are just a few (from

  1. A negative result to having Googled a person; to be shocked or repulsed by what you find out about a person you have just Googled; to Google someone with the intention of finding out something negative about them.
  2. To gyrate and jiggle ones posterior using just the hips.
  3. A large, lovable hug online
  4. a big accidental mistake
  5. any six legged insect-like creature that appears out of no-where
  6. (noun) An untalented person, bred in an art school, who thinks they are amazing. They are most commonly found in groups. Like gangs. Known to be extremely promiscuous and occasionally homosexual. Often, they are two faced and shouldn’t be trusted. Exercise extreme caution if one is identified.
  7. (verb) Basically, it’s being gang raped. It is the signature action of the boogles (a gang). If someone says they are going to boogle you, run! Once they capture you, you can never escape… And you’ll need expensive therapy.
  8. The act of up chucking milk.
  9. A small, purple creature capable of changing shape, that helps Torin reach the lands below.
  10. testosterone
  11. A mix between a moogle and a bugle
  12. A large comforting virtual hug..possibly with some subtle fondling involved. Used in chatrooms to show affection.

In short, boogle seems like a VERY flexible word.  Anything that ranges from a virtual hug to upchucking milk to gang rape – must depend on context and, of course, how you say it.

If I’d hadta guess, I’da said boogle was a cross between a dance and a puzzle – kinda like fancy high-stepping and hip-popping through a maze of a haunted house.  Not that there’s much use for a word like that.

If you were to make up a word, what would it mean?  What would it sound like?  What important thing would it express (beyond “please, Google, lead me to an online dictionary, I’ve forgotten the URL”)?

Send us something!

P.S. – This is a fun site.  They have an apparently reliable Word of the Day, and also a  random word function ( 


December 8, 2008

Ok, it’s not a word per se.  However, it was hard to resist.

megalo-  combining form  Big; indicating excessive or abnormal size.  Also, before vowels, megal-. 
[<Gk, megas, megalou, big.]

The only word using this combining form in my dictionary was megalomania.  This could be read as an excessively big mania, which is already defined as an extraordinary enthusiasm or craving.  But we all know about megalomania.  Let’s make some new words.  How about:

  • megalelection – the overall US presidential election process
  • megalego – really, really, really high self-esteem
  • megalobailout – yeah, that
  • megalolove – when you got a big, big love
  • megalopop – one of those huge drinks you can buy at a convenience store
  • megalick – something that is excessively nasty, as opposed to…
  • megalolick – something that only Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, St. Bernards, and really good lovers can do

Ideas?  Send us some good ones!