Tag Archives: literary oddities

The Devil’s Dictionary: Teetotaler

“Teetotaler, n. One who abstains from strong drink, sometimes totally, sometimes tolerably totally.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000. 

Write It Right: Involve for Entail

“Involve for Entail. ‘Proof of the charges will involve his dismissal.’ Not at all; it will entail it. To involve is, literally, to infold, not to bring about, nor cause to ensue. An unofficial investigation, for example, may involve character and reputation, but the ultimate consequence is entailed. A question, in the parliamentary sense, may involve a principal; its settlement one way or another may entail expense, or injury to interests. An act may involve one’s honor and entail disgrace.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. Write it Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2010.

The Algonquin Wits: Herman J. Mankiewicz on Table Conversation

“Mankiewicz once explained to a round table audience: ‘You know it’s hard to hear what a bearded man is saying. He can’t speak above a whisker.’”

Excerpted from: Drennan, Robert E., ed. The Algonquin Wits. New York: Kensington, 1985.

A Concluding Assessment Lesson on Adjectives

If you search “lesson plan on adjectives” on this blog, you will find that there are a total of 11 lesson plans dealing with this part of speech; here is the concluding assessment lesson plan.

This lesson opens in my classroom with this Everyday Edit worksheet on Lucy Cousins’ Maisy books–and if your students enjoy the satisfaction of completing these exercises in correcting grammar, style, and spelling in another person’s prose (mine generally have), you can find a yearlong supply for download at no charge from the good people at Education World. This lesson generally extends across two days, so here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on malapropisms. Finally, here is the structured worksheet that closely follows the sequence of the 11 lessons that comprise this unit and serves as their concluding assessment.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Rotten Reviews: The Wapshot Scandal

Fatally flawed.

Hilary Corke, New Republic

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.    

Write It Right: Brainy

“Brainy. Pure slang, and singularly disagreeable.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. Write it Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2010.

The Devil’s Dictionary: Eloquence

“Eloquence, n. [1.] The art of orally persuading fools that white is the color it appears to be. It includes the gift of making any color appear white. [2.] A method of convincing fools. The art is commonly presented under the visible aspect of a bald-headed little man gesticulating above a glass of water.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000. 

Maud Gonne to William Butler Yeats

[Remark to William Butler Yeats]

“Poets should never marry. The world should thank me for not marrying you.”

Quoted in Margaret Ward, Maud Gonne: A Life (1990)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Nancy Mitford on Domestic Justice

“The Great Advantage of living in a large family is that early lesson of life’s essential unfairness.”

Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love, ch. 1 (1945)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006

Catherine Aird on Serving as a Good Example

“If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.”

Catherine Aird

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.