a hen's egg used for food.
Cackleberry, “an egg, a hen’s egg,” is a piece of facetious American slang. The word is a compound of the verb cackle “to utter a shrill, broken cry such as a hen makes” and the common noun berry “small fruit without a pit,” also used often in compounds such as strawberry or gooseberry.
“Cackleberries,” said Gately, picking up one of the eggs and examining it as though it were an emerald. “A genuine cackleberry.”
Klock had played swell ball all week, scampering around station one like a hare—the March variety, of course—but he wasn’t hitting hard enough to imperil the shell of a cackleberry.
something that passes everywhere or provides a universal means of passage.
Passe-partout, “something that provides a universal means of passage; a master key, skeleton key,” comes from the French compound passe-partout, whose literal meaning is “(it) passes everywhere.” In French the phrase originally meant “a person who can go anywhere,” and slightly later “a master key.” The French verb passer “to pass” comes from Vulgar Latin passāre “to walk, step, pass,” from the Latin noun passus “pace, step.” Partout is a compound of par “through” and tout “all.” Par comes from the Latin preposition per “through”; tout comes from Latin tōtus “all, the whole of, complete.” Passe-partout entered English in the 17th century.
Journalists have an invisible passe-partout that allows them to roam the world and ask consequential people impertinent questions.
I conducted my own furtive tour of the French intelligence community and found that de Villiers’s name was a very effective passe-partout, even among people who found the subject mildly embarrassing.
given to, characterized by, intended for, or suited to joking or jesting.
The English adjective jocular “given to or suited to joking or jesting; facetious” comes straight from the Latin adjective joculāris “humorous, laughable, facetious,” which, used as the neuter plural noun joculāria, means “jests, jokes.” Joculāris, a derivative of the noun jocus “a jest, joke,” comes from the widespread Proto-Indo-European root yek-, yok– “to speak, speak solemnly, pray.” In other ancient Italic languages, such as Umbrian (spoken north and east of Rome), iuka means “prayers”; in Oscan (spoken around Naples), iúkleí means “(in) consecration.” The root variant yek– appears in Old Saxon and Old High German gehan, jehan “to speak, acknowledge, confess.” The suffixed variant yekti– yields Middle Welsh ieith and Breton iez “prayers,” and in far-off Turkestan, both Tocharian languages, A and B, have the root yask– “to demand, beg.” Jocular entered English in the first half of the 17th century.
She said to us, “Good morning, class,” half in a way that someone must have told her was the proper way to speak to us and half in a jocular way, as if we secretly amused her.
The voice will be instantly recognizable as Saundersesque to anyone familiar with his fiction: jocular and often stand-up-comic funny, with a focus on providing joyful surprises with every turn of phrase.