(to return to previous page, click here)
 
Wit and Wordplay II:  Sophisticated Word and Wordplay and Dated Witticisms
B.  Sophisticated Humor
B 1 Legal and Academic Humor
(Added 3/2/2020): It is a delicious irony that orthoepy, or "right pronunciation," can be pronounced five different ways, according to the OED.
(Added 2/17/2020; "What haters of the United States, who may speak French, call it): 'Amerdika.'"
(Added 2/16/2020; Seen on a bumper sticker): "'You get too close I will ding your shit.' No doubt this is an unintended mistake for "I will Ding an Sich," the Kantian notion of what something is in its essential state, unavailable to us. Certainly I wouldn't want that driver to be available to me."
(Imagined Course Title of Feminist Law Professor):  "The Engendered Species Act"
(Sung to the tune of "Tipperary"):  "It's a Long Way to Certiorari. . ."
(Reaction of Law Student after Studying the 14th Amendment Interpretation) "Tears of Scrutiny."
"A commonplace among lawyers is that it is ominous to have a will that is anonymous."
 
[On Maxims of Equity, about two dozen proverbial sayings guiding Courts of Equity in common law England, mostly codified by the 18th century], "I wrote a note to my fashion-conscious friend about "Maxims of Equity."  She misread the second "m" of Maxims as an "ne," and so she inquired as to whether 'Maxine's of Equity' was as prominent as 'Filenes of Boston' or 'Saks of New York.'"
"He dropped the philosophy class because he couldn't stand the ontics of the professor."
"Only someone like Karl Llewellyn could get away with explaining that the Statute of Frauds was to keep people from 'welching' on their contracts" (Cases and Materials on Sales (1930), at 916).

[What Westlaw tries to do to its Chief Competitor]: "Dislexis"

[The Title of a Blank Book] "The Likable Lawyer"

[The notion of settled precedent--to Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas]: "Stare Derisis"

[What the bald man hopes to see each morning] "Hair Apparent"

[Explaining to Beginning law students the nature of Legal Representation]: "Well, you have Inhouse counsel and then you have Outhouse counsel."

"I received an email inviting me to a seminar entitled 'Accounting for Lawyers.' I mused that in most people's minds there really is NO accounting for lawyers."

[On the Powerful Mind of the Great Anthropologist]: "A Boas Constrictor"

 

"After an acrimonious exchange with a fellow linguist at a professional conference, one professor attacked another, beating him to a participle."

 

[Thinking about the Task of a Historian; Inspired by the Nevada Museum of Art--12/17/10]

"First, see the LAYERS of a situation

Then, see a particular in its LAIR."

 
Other Sophisticated Word Play
"And then Mrs. Heavy called together her three sons, Languid, Torpid, and Pinguid and her daughter Gravid."
"After downing a few beers, he was sitisfied."
"SARCAUSTIC: Something that burns as well as tears..."

[Definitely not best-sellers]: Your Second 10,000 Chinese Characters 
A Sanskrit Grammar for Bilingual Albanian-Icelandic Speakers
Fun with the Tibetan Secondary Suffixes

"The jury soon realized that the defendant, an acarologist, was in fact a tickicidal maniac."

"My friend used to lecture on the evils of circumcision. But now he is an INACTIVE INTACTAVIST"
"I confess I tend towards elitism in use of words. I tend to look down on someone for whom tintinnabulation doesn't ring a bell."
"Her new physician, a Greek gentleman named Dr. Tomos, was in fact a cutting-edge surgeon."
"Ideologies Imbrute."
"Would Robin Hood and his merry men rightly be called a ludibund?"
"It is ironic that the English word for 'rule by women' has an accent on the antepenult."
 
"Divagate means 'to wander.'  It has nothing to do with a scandal among prima donnas."
 
"I wonder sometimes whether Tufts University was named after a famous TRICHOTILLOMANIAC."
"His acathisia was long-standing."

[Reflecting on the tonal character of the Chinese language, connected to a memorable JFK phrase]

"A rising tone lifts all chuan."

"Strict controls are necessary so that the work of dendrochronologists doesn't become a tree-ring circus."

[Ideas for Epic-Inspired T-Shirts]

"Imagine Mulciber Falling," Paradise Lost I. 740
"Round he throws his baleful eyes," Paradise Lost I.56
"Imagine Achilles Sitting," Iliad I. 330

"If he had gone into geometry, would his name have been Isaac Azimuth?"
"If the only thing the dendrochronologist is going to speak about is tree borings, the talk will be tres boring."
"He shamefully admitted to the head of the pollen study committee that he was a PALYNOLOGICAL liar."
"When many people read the 1953 article "Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids," which proposed the double helix or spiral staircase structure of the DNA molecule, they thought it was just a Crick of shit."
"'Don't be SYLPHISH,' she said to the greedy little nymph."
"My family story: my three brothers have been successful, focusing on quantum acquisitions; I, the poorer one, have dedicated myself to quondam acquisitions."
"He became UNGLUED when he realized that the animals in the heraldry picture were UNGULED."
 
"After the storm, when viewing her destroyed trellis/pergola, she became absolutely wisterical."

"EPIBALLISTIC: When you REALLY are angry.."

"If a book were entitled 'She Was Not Unconcerned,' might it be an example of litoterature?"

"Upon seeing a clearcut forest, she exclaimed, 'What an umbrageless situation!'"

"Was it really unexpected that one of the greatest American ichthyologists of the 19th century was Theodore GILL?"

[My literary method, coining a new word along the way]: "Spare but not aspere."

 

[My literary ouput]:  "Prolific but not prolix"

"The leaves of the Gunnera are repulsively large, quite rhubarbative."

"If Jesus had been a culicidologist, would he have said to his disciples, 'Henceforth ye shall be catching GNATS?"

"And then there's the story of the gnattily-dressed CULICIDOLOGIST."

"He was aGNATically related to the CULICIDOLOGIST."

'The pteridologists were chagrined to learn that the networks had decided to cancel the pilot of their favorite show: SPHAGNUM P.I."

"The Dutch pteridologist was incensed with how everyone in the States treated him as a fernner."

"The mite-infested lab really ticked off the acarologist."

"It was not unexpected that Sir John Hooker (17th century) wrote about FALCATE plants."

 

"Immediately upon seeing the remains of the harvested potato crop in the familiar fields of his father's estate, he let out a sigh and said, 'Haulm, sweet haulm."

[Words spoken by a contestant at the Independence Day Nathan's Hot Dog-eating contest]:

"Give Me Uberty or Give me Death."

[Sign over Pub door] "Guaranteed: No Inhibition after Imbibition"

"If the famous boy pharoah had been buried wearing a knitted stocking-cap tapered and closed at both ends, would he have been known as TUQUETANKHAMUN?"
 

"He hit his uberty in puberty."

"If you are in the neighborhood of a fish habitat would it be proper to say you are in its PISCINITY?"

"Question to nautical man: 'Do you like to sail?' Answer: 'An dhow."

"Once September had gone, the nursery owner was glad to say 'Hosta la vista' to his summer hardy herbaceous perennials."

"Is it a FELICITOUS irony that FELICIDE and FELICIFIC are next door neighbors in the OED?"

"ED Cope and OC Marsh: the backbones in the study of vertebrate paleontology."

"After Shakespeare's death, did he become the Bard of Paradise?"

"OOLOGIST: A Scientist who needs to catch a Z."

"Question: What did the kilt-clad pharmacist order when he lost the pouch in the front of his kilt? Answer: A 'Neo-sporran.'"

[What the hawk said to its mate, after vomiting out an indigestible meal]

"I feel pterrible."

And if the meal was one of ferns, the words would have been:

"I feel pterible."

"When he shot the Tachybaptus ruficollis, he realized he had made a GREBOUS mistake."

"The Scottish Noble's hatred of the king was evident in his thegnly-veiled threats."

[Fight song of 14th century Knights]"Heaume on the Range"

"The dull report also had a dry-as-dust exsiccative summary."

"CALLIPYGIAN: A buttiful thing to behold."

"The Latest Portmanteau Word-- A 'Lamb/Llama' hybrid is a Llamb.'"

[Imagined Holiday Greeting Outside of One of Nevada's Legal Brothels]:

"Meretricious to You!"

"I couldn't believe his edacity. He just ate the food right off MY plate."

"ILLITERATURE: Bad Books Given to People Who Can't Read"

"If the Great Powers extended their influence into swamps after they divided Africa among themselves in 1884-85, would this have been an example of Chelonialism?"

[An overheard student conversation about one of the most popular archaeology professors]

"I really dig his profossorial manner."

[Books by an aspiring anthropologist]:

"The Indolent Indologist"
"How Inuits Intuit"

"To be inviable is rarely enviable."

"If Ronald Reagan, while an actor, had been into engraving, would he have wanted to win one for the GLYPHER?"

"Had Ophelia been a cygnet, would Hamlet have urged her, 'Get thee to a swannery'?"

[Behavior that Ignores the Realities of the Moment]: "Ostrichive"

"Would it be correct to call the last century of painful, declining Turkish rule in the 19th century, the last days of the OTTOMOAN Empire?"

"Wasn't it logically impossible to 'coin' the term exonumia?"

"He discovered that trying to understand organic chemistry was a real 'intelluctation.'"

"His lined overcoat made him IMPLUVIOUS to the driving rain."

"If Interstate Truck Lines dropped the 'r' in Interstate, would it then suffer from abulia?"

[When you feel Isolated, Lonely and Depressed, you talk about entering into your "Tube." You are in a...] "Tubular Rasa"

"Would the keeper of the royal bed have been called YOUR FLOCCULENCY?"

C.  Dated Humor
(The Democrats' Dilemma 1995-1998), "Monica Lewdinsky" and "Bill Clindongton"
"And then there is the story of how 70 bishops, priests and deacons declared adoptionist Christology heretical and voted, in a Synod called in Antioch in 269, to depose Paul of Sammy Sosa."
(On the NBA Brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills on November 19, 2004), "Seeing Pacers forward Stephen Jackson pummeling fans in the stands puts new meaning into the his position on the team: SWINGMAN."
(More on the Brawl), "One fan says to another, 'Personally, I believe that the guy who threw the beer at Artest is the most cuppable."
(Line sung by Carolers outside of the Portland (OR) Art Museum, where a retrospective of the Oregon works (1904, 1908) of Childe Hassam was on display, beginning December 11, 2004): "Carolers:  'What Child(e) is this?" Response: "Hassam."
"Journals in alphabetical order on a library shelf. '(1) Journal of Far Eastern Studies. (2) Journal of Near-Death Studies. (3) Journal of Near Eastern Studies.' I guess that means that Near Death is somewhere between the Far and Near East. How true for 2005." 
"If Johnny Cash were alive today (January 5, 2010) and writing songs about the University of Nebraska football team, he would definitely write one titled 'A Man Named Suh.'"

"The chronology of famed college basketball announcer Dick Vitale's vocal chord surgery:

1.  Dec. 4, 2007--last college basketball game he broadcast before surgery; 
2. Dec. 18, 2007--surgery; 
3. January 13, 2008--first words spoken after surgery; 
4. February 6, 2008--first game broadcast after surgery--Duke v. North Carolina. 

MY COMMENT: It must have been the most wonderful Christmas his family ever experienced.."

[After dealing with the backbiting and slander while governor in California, Arnold's next movie]:

"The Calumniator"

[Oregon 6A Boys Basketball in 2006-07, in a Nutshell]

 

"In South Medford, some Sing(u)le(a)r Athletes" 
"In Lake Oswego, a Love Fest"

"I Know why the CIA has been MIA in dealing intelligently with important national issues in the last few years--their best agents were all trying to catch Jason Bourne."

"Senator Larry Craig puts new meaning into the concept of Stall Tactics..."

"Today, September 13, 2008, the No. 1 USC Trojans wiped out No. 5 Ohio State, 35-3. Conclusion? The Trojans aren't ranked high enough.." 

[Reflecting on the upcoming Conclave of Cardinals, to choose the successor to John Paul II]

"Those Cardinals aspiring to the papacy ought to hire Robert Schuller to lead a seminar on PAPABILITY THINKING." 

[written 4/19/05, upon the election of a new Pope]: "Rats! It's Ratzinger."

[Dubya, interpreting JFK's famous line]: "A rising tide lifts all yachts."

If he had lived hundreds of years ago and was fond of reporting on intrigues behind various Coats of Arms, might the ace reporter's name have been HERALDIC RIVERA?"

[After witnessing Phoenix dismantle Memphis, 4-0, in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, paraphrasing the Beatles]: "Here come the Suns"

"If Sir Bevis of Southampton subdued the medieval giant Askapart of Arabia, whom, pray tell, did Sir Butthead subdue?"

"Few know that Cave Man Lawyer sings in an a glabella choir."

[Seminar that Charles Barkley will not be leading in his spare time]"Fit at Forty"

[Bill Murray's next movie, as he works his way upwards]: "The Life Edaphic"

"Within a week of the London bombings, it is good to see that officials are getting some solid LEEDS."

[My recent CV, in a nutshell]:

"1996-1999 Law School; 2000-2003 Infirmed Prestigiously in Portland; 2003-06, Law Professor"

Definition of Hurricane Katrina: "UnRovable."

"After witnessing the the missteps of the McCain-Palin campaign, Howard Gardner must be thinking of following up his 1985 classic book with a new one tentatively entitled The Theory of Multiple Stupidities."

[The Republican attack on Democrats who urge pullout from Iraq]: "Murthaless."

[Question raised by confused five year-old]"Daddy are they going to send Mr. Libby with his Scooter up the River?"

[Saddam Hussein's Crime]"So many people were massaKurd."

[Firebrand Republican opponents of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson]: "Plamethrowers"

[The Republican Party in the Wake of the Impending Resignation of the House Majority Leader]

"Developmentally DeLayed"

"Four straight Wimbledon's and US Open wins is a real FEDERER in Roger's cap."

[A new television show--about clothing]"Everybody Loves Raiment."

[The 2006-2007 Tennessee Men's Basketball Team]"Not very eVOLved." 

[Line in a 1/4/09 news story mentioning New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's withdrawal from being Obama's Commerce Secretary]

"As governor, he [Richardson] has kept up an international profile with a specialty in dealing with rouge nations."

My Question: "But would he have had such a high profile had he only dealt with beige or azure nations?"

[What Green Bay Packers Fans experience when they watch their club] "Favrevergnugen"

[Reflecting on a Popular Cliche]: "The only problem with Michael Vick in the past four years is that he DID have a dog in the fight.." 

"The scoop is that seemingly invincible American swimmer Michael Phelps' only vulnerability is in the breast stroke. Luckily for him, there are several men waiting to show him how to improve in this department."

[Regarding News Story on 9/17/08]: "Carly Fiorina said yesterday that Sarah Palin wasn't qualified to run Hewlett Packard. Hmm. She ought to know." 

"In the PAC-10 Track & Field Championship (May 16, 2009), Galen Rupp turned up the heat on his colleague Shadrack Biwott and roasted him."