Snortomaniac Hyperbolic Pylorectomy.

John Cowan sent me a link to this webpage, which, alas, I have been unable to access, but the quote is too good not to repost, so I’m copying it from his e-mail:

In Gelett Burgess’ 1911 novel Find the Woman, a truck driver blocks the way of a parade organized by a society to ban profanity. He is addressed by Dr. Hopbottom, the society’s head:

See here, you slack-salted transubstantiated interdigital germarium, you rantipole sacrosciatic rock-barnacle you, if you give me any of your caprantipolene paragastrular megalopteric jacitation, I’ll make a lamellibranchiate gymnomixine parabolic lepidopteroid out of you! What diacritical right has a binominal oxypendactile advoutrous holoblastic rhizopod like you got with your trinoctial ustilaginous Westphalian holocaust blocking up the teleostean way for, anyway! If you give me any more of your lunarian, snortomaniac hyperbolic pylorectomy, I’ll skive you into a megalopteric diatomeriferous auxospore! You queasy Zoroastrian son of a helicopteric hypotrachelium, you, shut your logarithmic epicycloidal mouth! You let this monopolitan macrocosmic helciform procession go by and wait right here in the anagological street. And no more of your hedonistic primordial supervirescence, you rectangular quillet-eating, vice-presidential amoeboid, either!

The truck driver apologizes: “I see a plain, sea-faring man has no show with a doctor when it comes to exhibiting language in public. … If this here society what’s running this here procession can turn out graduates of the noble art of profanity like you are, I want to say this: Give me the pledge, and I’ll sign it.”


  1. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    Interesting (and amusing). I had no trouble with the link, but it doesn’t contain anything more than what you’ve quoted. However, it may be worthwhile exploring the site more extensively.

  2. Jhieroenymous van 't Blad says

    In Dutch train stations and sometimes bus stops you can find posters from the “Bond tegen vloeken” (Anti-cursing league). The sordid-tongued reader will readily guess some of the gestures and words with which I express my appreciation of their efforts.

  3. I think “jactitation” is missspellled.

  4. For some reason, Dr Hopbottom reminds me of Captain Haddock.

  5. “Westphalian holocaust” probably doesn’t function so well anymore. For this trope to work (as with Capitaine Haddock) the taboo has to be replaced with the far-fetched and barely penetrable (though ultimately analyzable as innocuous). So the impression of “profanity” comes from the rhythm, tone, and context rather than the semantics (which says a lot about the semantics of profanity) and the comedy from the intuition that these are not taboo words at all, and also from the virtuosity of their far-fetchedness. But “Westphalian holocaust” is not as far-fetched or innocuous as it was in 1911.

    PS – as when Capitaine Haddock calls some low life a “schizophrène” or “Aztec”, today I would think this would suggest too much real contempt for certain persons/peoples to be effective.

  6. January First-of-May says

    Каррамба кракатоа мелинсфунд, пепермент доминант септ аккорд олеонафт!

    I personally also tend to curse with random words, though they’re a lot less impenetrable, and typically a lot more nonsensical (my favorite curse phrase is “triangular jaguar”).

  7. The Doctor makes grammatical sentences, whereas the Captain just uses individual epithets without any connective tissue.

  8. “Francis Urquhart” is my favorite minced oath.

  9. “You keep leaving little notes… We’re out of corn flakes, F.U. It took me three hours to realize that F.U. was Felix Unger!”

  10. It’s amazing that line made it into the movie.

  11. John Cowan says

    This, of course, is the Gelett Burgess of blurb and the Purple Cow, parts I and II.

  12. David Marjanović says

    “Francis Urquhart” is my favorite minced oath.

    …in the entire Finno-Ugric language family.

  13. when Capitaine Haddock calls some low life a “schizophrène” or “Aztec”, today I would think this would suggest too much real contempt for certain persons/peoples to be effective

    I’m suddenly reminded of Walt Kelly’s P. T. Bridgeport: “You ignorant Igorot!’

  14. I just used the phrase “cheesed off” in place of “pissed off,” and I immediately wondered about how that minced oath had originated. Perhaps the existence of “cheese and crackers!” as a mincing replacement for “Jesus Christ!” contributed.

  15. On the Amazon

    …Wild duodenum are lurking in the trees
    And the jungle swarms with green apostrophes
    Oh, the Amazon is calling me…

  16. Green suggests that cheesed off might be a euphemism for pissed off; but the latter is American and the former is British, mostly.

    Cheese off and cheese it are apparently cognate with cease.

  17. “Westphalian holocaust” probably doesn’t function so well anymore.

    Substitute “hypocaust”.

    (On the same WP page: tepidarium, calefactory, cocklestove)

    I note “Zoroastrian” in the OP as another example of using an extant religion as an expletive. The term “Trinitarian” has the same rhythm, and would offend even more. But “Marcionian” does as well, and should no longer offend anyone.

    Other defunct heresies and cults could be used as well.

    Perverse Symbonia-thumping Archontic!

  18. On the Amazon

    What a great song! I just sent it to my grandsons, who love wordplay and silly songs. Too bad there don’t seem to be any pre-McLean recordings on the internet; I’d love to hear a 1920s version.

  19. Here and here is the original. My ideal would be something between the original and the McLean version.

  20. Thanks!

  21. PlasticPaddy says
  22. Thanks, Paddy! I thought I’d heard that version some place somewhere, but couldn’t find it again. Less raw than the original, and realized as a goofy song, not as a dance number. This must be the version McLean had heard. I like the McLean version but it’s a bit of gilding the (carnivorous!) lily.

  23. Yes, that Bobby Howes version is excellent — thanks, Paddy!

  24. gink 5. (US) a fellow, a person (not pej.); also as a jovial/affectionate term of address.

    1912 [US] T.A. Dorgan Daffydils 12 Dec. [synd. cartoon strip] The gink stabbed the air a few times.
    1915 [US] G. Bronson-Howard God’s Man 265: I’m trying to learn to talk the way you educated ginks do.
    1922 [US] M.E. Smith Adventures of a Boomer Op. 27: There stood a guy about six foot four and as broad as a moving van, was a good natured looking gink though.
    1938 [US] W. Winchell On Broadway 6 Aug. [synd. col.] Weber and Heilbroner’s ad […] showed a handsome gink smoking a pipe – with a ciggie in his right hand.
    1943 [US] W. Guthrie Bound for Glory (1969) 160: Who’s them ginks in th’ shack?
    1968 [Aus] S. Gore Holy Smoke 78: These archaeology ginks had nutted it out.
    1970 [US] ‘Troy Conway’ Cunning Linguist (1973) 67: I […] stretched with all the luxury in that gesture for a gink who’s been parked behind the wheel of a car for twelve solid hours.
    1971 [UK] (con. WWII) B. Aldiss Soldier Erect 134: He will want men he can trust, ginks who feel the same as he does.
    1995 [Ire] P. Boland Tales from a City Farmyard 109: Right enough, the clever ginks had climbed the Marion Villas wall.

  25. Not quite the same effect, but I am reminded of my the high school biology teacher who passingly noted to our class that recessive homozygote makes for an insult with plausible deniality.

    A bit more subtly there’s also adjectives like runcinated, vituperative, perciform, Helvetian that instead have added zing due to interlinguistic specifics.

  26. I thought “gink” was from the Turkish for “male prostitute,” or by extension, “Arab.”

  27. OED (updated June 2017) says “Origin unknown. Perhaps compare kink n.¹ 3, and Scots gink prank (1866, apparently a variant of kink n.¹; compare kink n.¹ 2b).” They also have a couple of earlier cites:

    1906 National Police Gaz. (U.S.) 5 May 3/1 The gink that knows it all thinks he’s so damned smart.
    1909 Collier’s 7 Aug. 10/1 One kind old gink comes down and takes me by the arm.

  28. Green’s (usually the first place I check) says “[? link to Scot. gink, trick]”.

    Even the later, technically non-pejorative sense seems to be mostly used to bring superior people down to earth: “educated ginks”, “handsome gink”, etc.

  29. We’ve been caught by a Quick-Digesting Gink,
    And now we are dodgin’ his teet’,
    And now we are restin’ / In his small intestine
    And now we’re back out on the street …
    –Shel Silverstein

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