Verbatim is no longer publishing. However, this is a fan site dedicated to the legacy of Verbatim. Please enjoy the archives we were able to find and share with you all!

What’s Verbatim? Verbatim is a magazine devoted to what is amusing, interesting, and engaging about the English language and languages in general. We strive to bring fascinating topics out of the dusty obscurity of dry linguistic scholarship and polish them up for the general reader with an intelligent interest in language. We gently poke fun at the messes people can get into with English and the misunderstandings that arise from our common language. All this, plus a generous helping of book reviews, should provide an hour or two’s diversion for the person interested in language.

VERBATIM Online Issues

VERBATIM Articles, Book Reviews, News

A Quick Fox Jumps over the Cwm Fjord-Bank Glyph Biz

Russell Slocum Reading, Pennsylvania A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog is a popular grammar school writing exercise incorporating all 26 letters of the alphabet in a 33-letter sentence. For those wishing to shorten the lesson, it may also be the seed of an...

Pairing Pairs

The clues are given in items lettered (a-z); the answers are given in numbered items which must be matched with each other to solve the clues. In some cases, a numbered word may be used more than once, but after all matchings have been completed, one numbered word...

Up or Down to You

John Musgrave Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk Robb Wilton, that acclaimed and dearly-loved British comedian of the thirties and forties, introduced one of his best wartime monologues with the classic first lines, "The day war broke out, my wife said to me, 'It's up to you!' I...

Erin McKean

Erin McKean has wanted to be a lexicographer since she was eight years old. After reading an article in the newspaper about the publishing of the supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary, she realized that making dictionaries would be a cool job. (Luckily, she...

Byte Bonding, Bit-bangers, and BLOBS

The mechanisms involved in the processes of word formation have been well documented by linguists; the wit, creativity, imagination and ingenuity displayed by the vernacular is inexhaustible. Magazines and newspapers, songs and screenplays all yield innumerable gems....

New Work from David Galef

Long-time readers of VERBATIM will recognize the name David Galef; his pieces in our magazine consistently garner compliments (and the editor is always pleased to find a new one coming across her email transom). But VERBATIM, as you all know, only publishes...

Authors and Articles Vol XVII

Authors and Articles VolumeNumberAuthorTitle XVII1Peterson, Max C.The Language of the Law XVII1Sypnowich, PeterNeedless to Say XVII1Pomfrit, D.A.Verbal Analogies V--Divination XVII2Pascal, PaulWhat's in a Roman Name? XVII2Bach, ZelligThe Scandalous Yiddish Guide of...

What’s the French for “Fiddle de dee”?

What’s the French for "Fiddle de dee"? Margaret of Scotland, Wife of Louis XI, provides an answer for Lewis Carroll Here’s a question to explore, A query Alice merely parried When she was examined for The right to wear the crown she carried, And to be a pawn no more....

On Blue Moons, and Others

Nature has favored us with a single large satellite with two felicitous peculiarities: It always turns the same face towards us, and it appears exactly the same size in the sky as our sun. The latter property makes a total solar eclipse, if we are fortunate enough to...

I May Already Be a Wiener

Gary Wiener Pittsford, New York As a startup on my computer I have this soundbite: Homer Simpson, down on himself as usual, in dubious assessment of his self-worth, saying, "I am a WEE-NER." Homer surely evokes a good chuckle from his audience, and best of all, the...

You’ve Got Game Part II

Gloria Rosenthal Valley Stream, New York By now you have given, received, played and enjoyed all the games on last year's list. I have a positive outlook when it comes to games; I'm positive I'm recommending the best. The games marked with asterisks are new this year,...

Racing for Definitions in South Africa

M. Lynne Murphy Baylor University, Waco, Texas For four years, I taught at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. "Wits", as it is known, is one of the two major English-language universities in South Africa, and in the deep, dark days of...

Dictionaries of Hard Words Come Easy

Ramona R. Michaelis Supervising Editor Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary One of the major problems that faces the lexicographer at the start of a new dictionary is, quite simply, the selection of entries for definition. Of the total English word stock of...

Epistolae 242

In William H. Dougherty’s "Bromides" in the Winter, 1999 issue, lumpectomy appears to be presented as equivalent to mastectomy. Not corect. Lumpectomy means just what one might guess, excision of a lump. Mastectomy is the surgical removal of the entire breast, the...

A Bestiary of Adjectives

Darwin, Desmond Morris, and David Atten-borough, to mention but three, teach us that man is just another animal: a hairless primate distinguished by uniquely complex language patterns. In DNA terms a human being is more than 95 percent chimpanzee. Does that explain...

Antedate Dictionary Citations

David Shulman New York City this article originally appeared in VERBATIM vol 2. no. 2, in February 1976 In VERBATIM II, 1, appeared an interesting article on dictionary citations in general. This article, however, is intended to complement it by describing only a...

Letters

Dear Sir: Just a couple of SIC!s from Vol. 24 No. 1. 1. In the article "The Last Pibroch", the author writes of clan chiefs memorizing a few words of Gaelic "to impress visiting dignatories." Is this the Gaelic for "dignitaries"? 2. Concerning Odet's use of the word...

Intolerable Intolerance, Redux

EX CATHEDRA In Volume 1, Number 3 of Verbatim, Laurence Urdang, in an article entitled "An Intolerant View of Intolerance" wrote: "I consider myself–as, I am sure, everyone regards himself–a tolerant human being: I try to avoid prejudice in all things. Yet I must...

Assing Around

The word ass appears in American slang in multiple ways with multiple meanings. It has a rich and varied history and can signify anything from good to bad to more. A mildly transgressive word, ass is not quite as serious as shit or fuck–it is more of a humorously...

Our New Address

VERBATIM has moved, and despite our renewing the forwarding request several times, the Chicago Post Office has decided it would be easier to pretend we don't exist. So if your letter is returned, our new address is:PO Box 597302Chicago IL 60659Our old address may be...

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