L is for Lollygag

Wandering the stacks in my library’s children’s section I stumbled upon this gem of a book:


Being both a slacker and something of a word-nerd I quickly picked it up. I was not disappointed by the wealth of quirky illustration, clever definitions and general mischievous tone of the book. If you’ve read Lemony Snicket’s “Series of Unfortunate Events” books you will recognize in this book the impulse to get young readers to use new words but without any of Snicket’s pedantic and obtuse insertions. The book’s intention is clear – we need as many words as possible.

“According to folks who know these sorts of things, there are about a million words in the English language. But did you know taht most English speakers use only a couple thousand of those words in everyday conversation? Gadzooks!”

Gadzooks indeed, and thank goodness for books like this! Without much more to say editorially, we conclude with a quick romp through some of the delightfully phrased expositions on the meaning of the words included in this fine tome:

alakazam (al-uh-kuh-ZAM) interjection
a magical incantation that has a little more pizzaz and oomph than saying “abracadabra”

cockamamie (KAH-kuh-MAY-mee) adjective
It sounds naughty, but it’s not. It means ridiculous or pointless, as in, “Of all the cockamamie ideas you’ve spouted, this is by far the worst.”

gibberish (JIH-ber-ish) noun
language that sounds like English but doesn’t actually mean anything; frequently heard when discussing technical or scientific things. According to one theory, the word comes from an eighth century alchemist named Gerber who invented a code language in order to keep his work secret

gonzo (GON-zoh) adjective
bizarre or unconventional, or using an exaggerated style; also a type of journalism in which the reporter puts him- or herself in the story and mixes fact with fiction

purloin (per-LOYN) verb
to take something that doesn’t belong to you. It’s a fancier way of saying “to steal.”

roustabout (ROWST-uh-bowt) noun
a person who works behind the scenes in a circus; a person who loads and unloads ships; a nickname for someone who works on an oil rig; or someone who stirs up trouble (see also rabble-rouser)

vexation (vek-Say-shun) noun
all kinds of annoyance, exasperation, botheration and peevishness

This is a truly great book and I can’t wait for Zeke to be old enough to read it.

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