Miscellany – Of words and oranges and lambs…

Feel like some wordplay  for the festive season?  Well try  these from the Washington Post  for a giggle.  The newspaper published a  contest for readers in which they were asked to supply alternative meanings for various words. These were some of the  winning entries:

Negligent, (adj.), describes a condition in which you absent-mindedly answer the door in your nightie

Lymph, (v.) to walk with a lisp.

Balderdash, (n.) a rapidly receding hairline.

Testicle (n)  a humorous question on an exam.

Oyster (n.) a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish expressions.

Pokemon (n.) a Jamaican proctologist.

Circumvent (n.) the opening  in the front of boxer shorts.

Willy-nilly (adj,) impotent.

Some years back the paper also asked readers to  take a word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter and then supplying  a new definition: The winners included:

Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realise it was your money to start with.

Giraffitti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

Sarchasm: the gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it

Glibido: All talk and no action.

Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease, (this one got extra credit).


Racial tensions  surface in odd places and times in  the Polynasia of Auckland.  When open-door  migration came to the city, the  newcomers described local  kiwi Chinese as bananas –  yellow on the outside, white inside.  They  made shows of  their wealth, they  bought and  demolished elegant old homes and at supermarkets  and shops,  didn’t seem to know how to queue.

You can often see  and hear Pakeha  stewing over these cultural gaffes, but with  a Kiwi phlegm they have also  adapted to the newcomers as they  became… well, bananas too.   But the other day a retired gruff tradie, described how he reacted when he saw what must have been a new Asian  migrant picking through oranges at the  local supermarket’s  fruit and vege shelves.

“This guy was  pushing his  thumb into the  oranges and  then  putting them back. Did it to about three of them and I said:  ‘you going to buy them?’   “Nah, Nah” he  said.

“So I picked up one of the  oranges,  squeezed the juice out over his head – and he squealed p’lice, p’lice!  The tradie looked over to a staffer and asked ‘You gonna call the cops?’  He grinned, shook his head –   and went back to  his work.”


Remember  that children’s story about the Emperor having no clothes?    Here’s another more local take from an eight-year-old  who  recently visited Auckland’s Ambury Park farm to see among other things, the endearing little lambs.   She was so moved she wrote this:

Lambs are Mammals

Lambs are Herbivores

Some lambs are Black

Lambs can be

cut up and roasted.




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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.