OK, this is the best lexicographical development I’ve seen in ages. Chris J. Strolin has started a completely insane project: “rewriting the highly revered OED… completely in limerick form. Possible? Yes. In one lifetime? I sincerely doubt it.” (The FAQ is here.) Here are his first few entries:

The very first word here is “a.”
It’s used with a noun to convey
A singular notion
Like “a duck” or “a potion”
Or top notch as when used in “Grade A.”
In geology this word is autonomous
And with rough-surfaced lava synonomous,
Yet the meaning it conveys
With two capital A’s
Is, of course, Alcoholics Anonymous.
(a sidenote: This is the first example of where I have corrected the old OED which defined “aa” as “a stream or a water course” with no mention of the more widely-known definition involving lava.)
An aal is a plant (this is clear)
Which yields a red dye kings revere.
Should you, Fred, and Ted
Go to paint the town red,
Sing out “Hail, Hail, the gang is aal here!”

But my favorite is by another member, wordnerd:

Consider this curious word:
He who steals cows from your herd
Commits the infraction
That’s known as abaction
(But rustling‘s the term that’s preferred).

Thanks to Grant Barrett for the link!
Update. OEDILF has moved to a new site, and I have replaced the links accordingly.


  1. Nice link!
    I like abdominous:
    There’s no need to be prolegomenous.
    The word only seems to sound ominous.
    If you’ve got a huge belly
    Like a big bag of jelly
    In a word, it is clear, you’re “abdominous.”
    Between a couple hundred talented languagehat readers, we ought to be able to help them out!

  2. Cute, but there’s no sexual innuendo! How can you have limericks without anything naughty?!

  3. joe tomei says

    Isn’t rewriting the OED naughty enough?

  4. OH wow. Thanks for the link. I’ll have to post on that.

  5. I’m afraid I go into Tourette mode at the hint of writing a limerick. Like Chris, I think innuendo and smut is fundamental to the form, and the restriction vastly diminishes my interest in the project. As Picasso said, “Good taste is the enemy of creativity”.

  6. Chris J. Strolin says

    OK, here we go! This thing is starting to snowball!
    Thanks to all on this site for your interest and support. Moreover, yes, please do join in! There is an overview in the OEDILF forum of the Wordcraft site that contains general guidelines. The project will have its own website in the not-too-distant future.
    Also, feel free to check out the rest of the Wordcraft site. It’s an excellent forum for intelligent conversation regarding the English language.
    As far as the censorship/clean vs. dirty/smut-art continuum/etc/etc/etc is concerned, my position is simple. Limericks do tend to be bawdy in nature and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But they don’t HAVE to be so in order to qualify as limericks. Some of the limericks already posted are neither sexual in nature nor particularly funny. One I like to point to as an example is “acicular” which goes:
    One rule that deserves strict adherence:
    From pointy things, keep a safe clearance.
    I dislike, in particular,
    Any object “acicular”
    Or “resembling a needle in appearance.”
    Funny? Not unless you’re either stoned or EXTREMELY easily amused. And if there was a rating lower than “G,” this one would fit into it. But seeing as how the stated goal of this project is to rewrite the entire OED in limerick form, goodness knows each and every piece is not going to be an absolute knee-slapper.
    Our primary purpose with the OEDILF is to have fun with it. Join us! (OK, that having been said, let me close this out and wander through your site a bit…)
    Chris J. Strolin
    Editor-in-Chief, OEDILF

  7. Is Chris Strolin from Nantucket by any chance?
    (My first thought, on seeing the acronym OEDILF, was that the “ILF” was borrowed from MILF, so I may be naturally predisposed toward dirty limericks.)

  8. Great link!
    Too bad the forum doesn’t allow registry of minors. What’s in there, word porn or something?

  9. We weren’t aware that there was any problem with minors registering. Now that it’s been drawn to our attention I’m sure someone will look into it and get back to you.
    As for the smutty/clean debate just look on it as an extra challenge to make them smutty as well as defining the word.
    Here’s mine for “adolescent”
    When you move on from just adolescent
    And advance to the stage of pubescent
    Don’t find it surprising
    If matters arising
    Have results that are largely tumescent.

  10. Chris J. Strolin says

    Count this as a disagreement or a clarification, as you like. I don’t consider Bob’s limerick smutty at all. The mere fact that it touches on an aspect of sex does not automatically make it objectionable.
    I’ve begun to make the rounds of limerick sites (via Google there are over a million – this may take a while) and more than a few are what I’d consider, well, let’s say less than erudite. While I wouldn’t presume to define smuttiness myself, like the Supreme Court judge I know it when I see it.
    Basic bottom line: The more the writer seems to be obsessed with body fluids, the higher the liklihood of smuttiness.

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